22 November 1996

SEMEN PROJECT TO BOOST PROOFS

PROGENY testing will use fewer herds but with more control over semen use to improve accuracy and speed of bull proofs in Italys Top One Project (TOP).

This new project began in June this year when two Italian AI companies, ELP Zoo and CLPP, merged their technical and communications departments.

Project manager Enrico Dadati says TOP plans to improve progeny testing using fewer but more dedicated herds. These will be offered incentives, such as free semen, to participate. It is hoped the new progeny test scheme will begin in December this year.

This will ensure semen is used faster so that there will be more daughters in the sires first proof.

Currently it takes up to six months to get the full number of first crop daughters in the test bulls proof, adds Mr Dadati.

"We have to invest money to contract more herds for bull testing," he says. "There is currently a market for test bull semen but we think that should stop.

"We should only use test semen in the contract herds. About 1000 herds will be needed using 30% young bull semen for the scheme."

Because most herds use DIY AI it has been difficult to control use of semen so in the new scheme farm AI tanks will be inspected every month to monitor what semen is being used. It is estimated that one person can check 150 herds so the cost is not that high, he says. And this will pay off with better bulls and quicker proofs.

The TOP co-op will test 150 bulls a year – some of which will come from 250 heifers in a new nucleus herd to be set up soon.