Sexed semen sales soar as farmers address bull calf issue

For the first time farmers are buying more sexed dairy semen than conventional semen, according to a recent AHDB survey of breeding companies.

In the 12 months to March 2020, sales of sexed semen made up 51.3% of all dairy semen sales, up from 31.9% the previous year.

The increase reflects a sharp upwards trend over the past three years as sales of sexed semen were only 17.9% in 2017.

See also: How sexed semen is paying off for Shropshire dairy farmer

There has also been an increase in the proportion of beef semen sales, which made up 47.6% of total semen sales, almost double the amount from 2015.

AHDB and NFU published a national dairy calf strategy earlier this year, which aims to eliminate calf euthanasia by 2023 and increase the number of male calves entering the beef supply chain.

Industry commitment

Jenny Gibbons, AHDB animal health and welfare senior scientist, said: “Substantial progress has been made over recent years and we welcome the uplift in the use of sexed dairy and beef semen, which demonstrates the industry’s commitment to address the bull calf issue.”

Marco Winters, AHDB head of animal genetics, said: “Sexed semen has become popular in recent years due to improvements in reliability and more competitive prices. It’s a good option for farmers looking to breed replacements from their best cows and lift their overall herd performance.

“With fewer cows needed for replacements, more cows can be served for beef to produce more saleable animals.”

Producers can use AHDB’s herd genetic report to understand their herd’s potential and make more informed breeding decisions targeting the best cows to breed replacements from.