Professor F. W. "At" Atkeson, Head of the Dairy Husbandry Department from 1935-1958, believed that Kansas needed a source of superior dairy bull semen to be used in our dairy herds to improve the genetic potential for milk production. The larger bull studs of the day were not interested in setting up shop in the state because they felt the demand for semen would be limited. Prof At appealed to College President Milton Eisenhower for help. In 1947, the president included a request for funding in his annual requests to the legislature. In 1949, the legislature appropriated $35,000 for the establishment of the Kansas Artificial Breeding Unit (KABSU). The College of Agriculture added $10,000 and the business was off and running under the guidance of the Department of Dairy Husbandry.
Dr. Earl Farmer, KABSU's first manager, along with faculty and staff bought, leased, and borrowed bulls to collect, and start plans for a permanent facility. The first semen was shipped out March 1, 1950. By September of that year, 48 Kansas counties were receiving service from KABSU. Many changes happened throughout the years to improve productivity.
In the earlier years, semen was delivered "fresh" to the dairy for use. Semen was sent out to AI technicians or county extension agents to be utilized. They tried to limit the amount of time between collection and insemination to 3 days, but as Harry Mudge, KABSU's first employee, said, "Most of the first day's time was wasted on the bus."
April 15, 1954, KABSU began a six-week field trial in 8 KS counties to test the practical application of frozen semen. Frozen semen on out-of-state bulls was offered to customers in November of 1959.
The "Young Sire Program" was introduced in February of 1960. This allowed young, untested bulls to be used and tested in a limited program, until proof could be determined. KABSU could then offer proven sires while they were still in their prime.
Up till 1959, all bulls collected were dairy breeds, but in February of that year, 1 Angus and 1 Hereford were listed. By 1965, slightly more than 1/3 of the KABSU services were from beef bulls.
KABSU was one of the first studs to offer "Custom Collections" to private breeders in December of 1961.
The "Do-It-Yourself" program was underway by April 1965. This program trained producers to AI their own cattle. More than anything, this program changed the character of AI in Kansas.
In 2001, the University sold the land on which KABSU operated and they moved headquarters to 3171 Tuttle Creek Blvd.
Always, KABSU has strived to live up to its motto of service, "Better cattle for better living!"