“There’s always a little bit of a pause when people ask what I do for work,” Chloe Short laughs.
“If I’m wanting to seem half civil then I just tell people I’m a vet nurse, but it’s hard to miss when I have the huge sign on the back of my ute.”
Positioned on Chloe’s sign, forebodingly below the silhouette of a cow, are two words in bright white letters: “Artificial insemination”.
“And that often gets a weird, grossed out response,” Chloe explains. Then people begin to ask questions.
‘What made you want to do that?’ and ‘Are you not grossed out by literally having your hand inside a cow?’ are particularly common according to Chloe.
For the owner of the recently established mobile animal services business CS Animal Services, the answer is simple: “It’s a very unique job, but I really love it.”
While Chloe also offers a range of other services to creatures great and small up and down the NSW South Coast, artificial insemination (AI) has quickly become her main focus just a few months after she travelled to New Zealand to undertake an intensive training program.
Chloe was one of only three in her cohort to achieve a success rate above 80 per cent required to pass the course.
The budding vet nurse went from pet sitting, microchipping and other things far from meriting a ‘grossed out response’ one day, to finding AI as her new business’ main focus the next.
Fortunately, it’s also the thing Chloe says she loves doing the most.
“It’s not something that a lot of people can do, so being able to do it successfully is very rewarding,” she says.
While in the human world, the treatment can help women having difficulty falling pregnant, the reasons farmers choose to use AI for cows are very different.
“You can introduce so many new [genetic] lines into your herd through AI, while not having to actually have a bull on your property,” Chloe explains.
“A lot of people find when they bring in a bull that’s not theirs, the whole time they’re just wrecking fences instead of actually doing their job.”
The process begins with farmers browsing online directories of bulls, which include photos and biographies. Almost like a dating app for cows, you could say.
One real listing for a bull on an Australian directory reads: “His temperament, fertility and eagerness for his job have made him a favourite at the semen collection facility.”
Once a farmer is suitably impressed with a particular bull, they place an order for a ‘straw’, which is similar in size to an ink tube and preserved inside liquid nitrogen.
When the straw is removed from the nitrogen tank as shown in Chloe’s video below, it’s a race against the clock to complete the process within 15 minutes.
While as a general rule, Chloe tries not to go into too much detail about what happens after the straw thaws, Region asked her to break this rule.
What follows is a challenging and physically demanding procedure that can’t be done by just any veterinary nurse, let alone a veterinarian.
“We’re actually holding the cervix of the cow in our hand and we manipulate that to get the inseminating gum through,” Chloe explains.
“It’s a lot mentally and physically because when you’re in the cow, you can’t see anything. Your hands are your eyes.”
Chloe says the whole process normally takes her around six minutes – a maximum of three spent with her hand inside the cow.
“I think the benefit of being a woman and doing this is we have a lot smaller arms, so it’s probably more comfortable for the cows,” she says.
Although Chloe grew up on property surrounded by animals and always knew she wanted to work with them, this isn’t always what she pictured.
“A lot of things have happened since I started my business and obviously since I started my [AI] course as well,” she says. “But I love it.”
Original article published by Travis Radford on About Regional.