19 June 1998

Young sire semen no profit enhancer

USING young sire semen is an option for lowering costs for commercial dairy herds, but it is not the route to increased profits, says Peebles-based independent breeding consultant John Hinks.

He advises producers who want to increase profits to use top-quality proven sires as he says young sires will reduce returns in the long run.

"There are really only two reasons to use young sires – one is semen price and the other is to contribute to young bull testing programmes," he adds.

Mr Hinks admits semen price may be important to producers with large overdrafts, and accepts in this case it makes sense to lower costs and accept lower profits.

"When looking to purchase cheaper semen, using a team of young sires is a viable alternative to many run-of-the-mill bulls," he adds. "There are some moderate-quality bulls that shouldnt even be marketed and to use young sires could be better than using these poorer sires."

Breeding companies such as Cogent and Genus offer teams of young sires with high potential, says Dr Hinks. These have been selected on the basis of production and type of sire and dam so there is no need for further selection on type by commercial producers not interested in selling breeding stock.

"There are herds that use only young sires," he says. "This tends to be on a contract arrangement with a semen supplier to lower the price and make the most of bull testing."

While these herds, which must take part in an official milk recording scheme, can breed their herd replacements for nothing, Mr Hinks warns that few young sires will make it to become high-quality proven bulls in five years time, and only one or two will better the current top-quality sires.

"You have available the best-quality proven bulls in the world. The top ones, such as Masot and Celsius, are way ahead in terms of what they can contribute to profit compared with any group of young sires," says Mr Hinks.

He reckons 5000 young sires from around the world may be tested each year, but maybe only one will better Celsius and he cannot be picked out before progeny testing.