13 December 1996

…but industry is not happy

THE initiative helps the Dutch secure its main export market and damages any attempts being made to break the UKs cycle of dependency on imported semen, says Tim Heywood of UK young sire proving scheme, Cogent.

"We are the only developed nation dependent on semen imports and as a result the most expensive semen market in the world," he says. "For example, Dutch bulls through Genus average £23 to a UK farmer – and £6 to a Dutch farmer." Genuss claim that progeny testing is limited to 285 bulls in the UK does not stake up, he says. "The Dutch test 370 bulls in Holland, with less than half the black-and-white cow population of the UK.

"Cogent has tested 50 bulls in its first year, and in three years were confident we will be testing 300 bulls, and own the worlds largest nucleus herd of 4400 females."

Some UK semen suppliers are also concerned about the initiative.

Managing director of Avoncroft Sires, John Williams says: "By dealing with more than one country, companies such as our own can offer farmers a wider choice of genetics. Were also committed to progeny testing UK-owned bulls and returning benefits to our testing members, in terms of discounts on proven semen."

"Genus has thrown in the towel," says Tim Heywood of Cogent. "In three years we will be testing 300 bulls in the UK and are determined to slash semen prices."