Understanding the bulls is essential to my work

Jan Jokumsen works in the barn in the bull station in Assentoft, Denmark, and he knows how important it is to keep a respect to the large animals.

How long have you worked for VikingGenetics?

”I started in 1996 in what was called Taurus in Aalborg (north of Denmark). At that time there were a number of AI companies in Denmark that later merged into Dansire. In 2008 we merged with the Swedish AI Svensk Avel and VikingGenetics was formed. In 2010 Faba in Finland also joined and the Nordic AI company was formed the way it is today. So you can see that I have been in this for many years – and always worked with the bulls.”

What is your job, and how is your typical working day?

”I handle the production planning in cooperation with our breeding managers and the export department. I am also in charge of the daily operations in the barn with nine staff members – and soon a few more. I get in at 5.30 a.m. and plan the day before the rest of the team get in. When we meet up, we talk about the production plan for the day, and then we start collecting the semen until around 9.30 a.m. Then it depends on the tasks to be done what I do next. What is urgent and what can wait. This could be ordering feed, hoof trimmer or something else.” 

What does it take to get the absolutely best semen quality from the bulls?

”Feed and welfare must be in order”. It is extremely important that our bulls have good digestion, and that they are fed the same mix every single day. This is something that we focus on. In addition, it is essential that there is good safety in the barn – especially for the very young bulls. Going into the collection area needs to be a comfortable and safe experience to them every time, and therefore it is important that none of are screaming and shouting – not even if one of the bulls is a bit “lively”. The atmosphere needs to be calm and quiet.”

”Now we understand the bulls better”

Jan Jokumsen has worked with bulls for many years and the work conditions have improved significantly over the years – both for animals and staff members.

”On the first day in the job in 1996 I had a bad experience with a bull because I had not been prepared and introduced to the job properly, and because we didn’t focus on safety as we do today. The bull tipped me over the rail when I had entered his pen. This is something that we never do today. Now we put on the halter before opening the gate, and we take good care in training new staff members before working with the large bulls.”

”Today we know so much more about the bulls’ psychology. For instance, we consider very carefully how and when to insert the nose ring. It needs to be there – and we only use it if under pressure, but it is a part of our safety. However, we need to remember that inserting the nose ring is a bad thing for the bull and so we never do this in the collection area which needs to be associated with nice things for the bulls.”

“Also when it comes to semen collection, we have learned a lot. The bulls are all individuals and require different temperatures in the artificial vagina. Therefore, we need to understand each individual bull to know how to get the best out of him. We have an Excel sheet with these notes for all the bulls in the barn.”

Jan Jokumsen is 45 years old and married to Bibi. They have two sons aged 11 and 15 years. The family lives in a house next to the bull station in Assentoft, Denmark. In his spare time, Jan is the coach of two boys’ football teams. And he also has his own mole control business.

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