11 December 1998

Co-op AI offers cheaper semen for members

CO-OPERATIVE AI services at bull testing programmes allow French producers to achieve significant savings when buying top quality dairy and beef semen.

Gilles Delaporte, head of the Co-Operative dInsemination Artificielle, north-west Brittany, told the MGA tour that co-op members could buy top quality dairy bull semen from sires such as Gibbon, Dannix, Eblack and Eskimo for just £23.85 (265fr).

The fee includes insemination and up to three visits if cows fail to hold to the two first services. Should a fourth insemination be necessary producers can opt to pay £4.50 (50fr) for a beef bull – supplied by a joint venture with a beef AI co-op – or £8.10 (90fr) for another top dairy bull.

Funded by 10,000 producers, the unit is capable of housing 200 bulls and tests 145 mainly French-bred bulls each year. Other EU-bred and US bulls account for 15% and 25% of those tested annually.

After collating data from progeny only 15 bulls from each group will be of sufficient genetic merit to warrant semen collection. Five might classify as top quality dairy bulls, said Mr Delaporte.

Despite costs of £27,000 (300,000fr) for each bull tested, the co-op is able to keep AI costs down. Producers using young test bulls on at least 15% of heifers pay £3.60 (40fr) for semen on top of a insemination charge of £9.90 (110fr). Those not using unproven young bulls paid an additional fee for breeding services, added Mr Delaporte.

Each year members agree insemination charges. On average each cow has 1.75 AI services to conceive; 52% are in-calf by 90 days after calving. Other services include embryo transfer and sexing. Semen sexing has been tried but is not widespread.

Bull data includes fertility assessment of progeny like that being introduced by some companies to the UK and is expressed as an average from zero. For example, Dannix scores -1.5 indicating a high production bull but is less fertile compared to Eblack at +0.9. &#42

Members pay £24 for semen from a top dairy bull, says Gilles Delaporte of CIA.