20 February 1998


THE French cow population includes 90% US genetics, and semen from French proven sires is now returning to the US with respectable results.

Speaking at the British Cattle Breeders Conference, Henri Guitard said that while initially the French selected more Canadian than US semen, breeders were disappointed with the size and production.

France has now had six or seven generations of dairy cows influenced by North American genetics.

Its peak of imports from the US was in the early 1990s. Now most semen used in France is French, and imports are under 5% of semen used.

Imported bulls now come from a wider range of countries because the genetic merit is similar, but still half are from the US. "The genetic value of imported bulls was no higher than French bulls last year, except those from Holland.

"However, close to 50% of the French bulls used over the last 25 years originated from North America, through import of young bulls rather than semen, and so the country has had a strong influence on French Holsteins." Many of these bulls, between 1985 and 1987, came from Canada because of restrictions on live imports and at that time ET was less successful.

"Use of US genetics will now be lower but will stay at an important level. It would be a mistake to just use genetics from one source. By using genetics from all over the world, we can find out where the best bulls are."

Corey Wolff of US breeding company AMS genetics added that since 1993 French and Dutch dairy semen has been imported into the US.

France and Holland collectively sample almost as many bulls as the US, and it is a hotbed for elite genetics with elite cow programmes.

"Sampling in Europe is more accurate with more daughters and fewer mis-identified daughters in a bulls proof," he claims. American breeders find this attractive, despite semen being more expensive than that produced in the US.

France and Holland are the preferred source of genetics because they select on extreme breeding goals and offspring has shown good value in the US.

Some Dutch bulls now have enough daughters for US proofs and these show that actual results match well with predictions, said Mr Wolff.

French daughters are now in milk and first impressions are good, although there is not enough data for proof comparisons yet, added Mr Woltt . &#42

Some Dutch bulls now have enough daughters for US proofs, says Corey Wolff.

It would be a mistake to use genetics from one source, says Henri Guitard.