Headbutt, kicks and dashing cows are all part of Artificial Inseminator Ange Wilson’s job, but she loves it
For the past 17 years, Ange Wilson has spent his early mornings reaching the lower regions of hundreds of cows.
“I didn’t grow up thinking I would be an artificial insemination technician,” she said.
“It’s scary at first, because you put your hand in the cow’s anus… but once you get used to it, you’re fine,” she said. ABC Melbourne afternoon.
Although she spends her mornings at the fragrant end of cows in heat, Ms. Wilson clears the mind of someone who loves her job.
“You are making a baby calf. I think it’s amazing, ”she said.
Headbutt and kicks – it’s all part of the job
In 2019, Ms. Wilson resigned and started her own business, Southern Land Bovine Services.
She has since hired young women who want to learn the trade and who are drawn to having a female mentor.
“I would definitely hire young men, but young women probably heard about me by word of mouth and approached me,” she said.
The nature of the job means you can get hit on the head, kicked and ridden by cows in heat, but these are weird occasions.
“I would kick someone too, if they came towards me with a big glove!” Ms Wilson said.
“It’s a mental game, inseminating cows can be quite tiring.
“Cows are really cool, they look a lot like humans,” she says.
“When cows make bulls, they are a bit hormonal and emotional like us.
“They can hold their milk. They can be stopped if they are generally friendly.
“But we love cows. It’s a job seven days a week in all kinds of weather conditions. If you didn’t like cows, you wouldn’t be in the industry,” she says.
The polite way to inseminate a cow
Ms. Wilson is aware that the artificial insemination procedure is highly invasive.
“We’re as gentle as we can get,” Ms. Wilson said.
“Before you attack a cow, you always put your hand on its back, letting it know you’re there.
“In the procedure, you lift the tail, which relaxes the sphincter area, and you essentially push.
“The rectal wall is quite thin so you put your hand in the anus and pick up the cervix, then the inseminator comes in vaginally.
“The inseminator is holding a straw of semen and you are trying to drop the semen into the body from her cervix.”
Unlikely benefits of work
Ms Wilson said she could inseminate hundreds of cows, on multiple farms, in one morning.
“Some days I start at 4 am, but I’m home at 8 am and my workday is over,” she said.
His work also brings him to the heart of farming communities.
“There’s a camaraderie about it, you’re a team,” Ms. Wilson said.
“You’re all together, you could be out in the pouring rain or the snow, and we just need to inseminate these cows.
“You help people, because when they are dealing with farmers, they go through difficult times,” she said.
“This year has been great and there have been a lot of happy farmers and a lot of laughs.
“But there were years when I was extremely concerned and almost like a counselor.”
Much of Ms Wilson’s work takes place in southwest Victoria, in the pocket full of dairies, near towns like Port Campbell, Timboon and Nullawarre.
These communities and many other communities in southwest Victoria have been hit hard by the dairy crisis, which peaked in 2016 after retrospective reductions in farm milk prices, many dairy producers with no income.
“Some farmers don’t see people for days on end,” Wilson said.
Arriving hours before dawn, Mrs. Wilson tries to bring some joy.
“If you can have a smile, or if you can have a joke of the day, that’s great because you can repeat that joke over and over at all the different farms.”