Farmers driving genetic gains using sexed semen
Orders for frozen sexed semen at CRV Ambreed have more than doubled over the last two years as dairy farmers look to get more from their top cows through genetic gain.
CRV product development manager Peter van Elzakker says an increasing number of farmers are considering sexed semen as a tool for lifting the quality of their herd improvement programme and getting replacement heifers from top producing cows.
“For herds with good fertility management, using sexed semen from the very best proven bull sires is the best way to get ahead.
“We’ve seen a trend of farmers using sexed semen to build up replacement numbers in their herd, while others are using it strategically to get heifers from their best animals and then mate the remainder of their herd with dairy-beef genetics.
“Other farmers recognise the opportunities from having additional females and selling the calves. There is also significant interest from farmers in using sexed semen to reduce their number of bobby calves. Decisions to use the semen for animal welfare reasons is becoming an increasingly important factor.
“Each pregnancy from sexed semen gives farmers a 90% chance of a heifer calf. This means getting replacements from elite cows, building herd numbers or creating value through excess heifer sales is a real option to drive herd improvement progress and profitability.”
Van Elzakker says while conception rates with sexed semen are around 10-15% lower than non-sexed semen, the genetic gains make it a worthwhile investment.
“Although there is a slight reduction in cow conception rates when compared to conventional semen products, sexed semen is a great option for heifer matings in particular. The conception rate is close to that of standard products and the genetic gain is even further accelerated.”
Sexed semen is available from a selection of CRV’s New Zealand and imported bulls, including limited quantities from the company’s brand-new stars, such as Quiz and Lannon.
The benefit of frozen sexed semen is that farmers get exactly the sire they order and can manage their own mating allocation.
Using the correct semen handling and the right selection of animals on heat will help farmers get the best possible results using CRV’s sexed semen product.
This starts with ensuring the cows are in good condition from calving to mating. It is also important to ensure all farm staff are skilled at identifying cows on heat and understand the farm’s heat detection process.
“We recommend farmers record pre-mating heats and only utilise sexed semen on cows that have cycled prior,” says Van Elzakker. “A quality heat detection product such as Estrotect will help farmers and their teams identify cows correctly that are on heat and ready to breed.”
Sexed semen key benefits
- Faster genetic gain – even faster if used on heifers
- Preservation of valued female lines
- Used at the start of mating for a tight replacement stock calving pattern leading to a strong and consistent line of replacement heifers
- Excess heifers – choose the best and sell the rest
- Calving ease as heifer calves are generally smaller than bulls