Up to 80 UK farmers have been sold the wrong semen after an elite Canadian progeny-tested bull was misidentified.

Canyon Breeze Alaska, a Class Extra sire – Canada’s highest genetic award for type and production ratings – was wrongly identified by Semex Alliance after his initial progeny testing period.

Following a mix-up while the bull was running with a group of young sires during his lay-off period, Alaska was mistaken for another bull, which had a lower genetic merit, called River-Gorge Maury and was subsequently destroyed.

Semen from the wrongly-identified Maury was then collected and sold to farmers across 30 countries, including 80 farmers in the UK.

There are currently 10 pedigree female ‘Alaska’ progeny registered with Holstein UK, born from March this year onward.

It is not known how many non-registered UK progeny exist.

Semex UK has offered to compensate farmers with replacement semen from within its stud of active sires at equivalent cost or better. Semex UK sold the original semen for £18 a dose.

John Parry Thomas, of G V P Thomas & Sons, Ffynnonwen, Cardigan, owns two Holstein UK-registered progeny from the wrongly-identified bull.

“What’s happened has happened,” he said.

“It’s unfortunate but mistakes do take place and there’s nothing we can do to rectify the situation.

“We were informed of the situation by Semex UK and have been told the ‘Alaska’ semen will be replaced by a bull of our choice.”

Holstein UK said Semex UK had been in contact regarding change of registrations and bull identity.

It said it was in the process of amending its database following the latest August 2011 evaluations.

Paul Larmer, chief executive of Ontario-based Semex Alliance, said all the breeders involved have been contacted and informed of the mix-up.

“This is an unfortunate situation that should not have happened owing to human error,” he said. “We have even stronger protocols in place to ensure this never happens again.”