When discussing the benefits of sexed semen there is always the “glass half empty” commentator who emphasises the extra cost. James Woods from Genus ABS has outlined the costs and weighed them against the extra benefits. See Table 1.
The major advantage for the dairy farmer is the faster increase in genetic merit of the herd, especially if the sexed semen is used on maiden heifers. The genetic gains will not only be on production but will also include type, mastitis, feet and legs, udder conformation and reproduction traits, if the sires used are carefully chosen.
Since the sexed semen is likely to be used mainly on the maiden heifers, beef semen can be used on the reminder of the herd providing the farmer with more valuable beef calves to sell.
Indeed as the genetic merit of the herd improves the farmer may have high genetic merit heifers to sell which could command a premium price, not only for their genetic merit but also for their disease status – coming from a closed herd.
Having more heifers coming into the herd means fewer difficult calvings. Difficult calvings can reduce milk yield in the subsequent lactation, increase days open and the number of inseminations.
With increased numbers of high genetic merit heifers coming into the herd the farmer may also be in a position to sell off the poorer performing animals.
To fully realise the benefits of sexed semen, James Woods does emphasise paying attention to the choice of sire and highlights some of those which have the essential traits for today’s dairy farmer.
Mr America CHACAL (Genomic) - this Cashmoney son has a huge PLI of £617. He combines +2.51 Type score, positive fat and protein percentages and 371kg of milk.
Mr MIGUEL (Genomic) – is sired by Cashcoin. Miguel brings huge PLI from a different pedigree. Leaves medium sized, easy managed cows. Health and fitness specialist, +ve for every trait. Huge lifespan score of 0.5 LS.
Regancrest BEAU- daughter proven Man-O-Man son. Over 1500 milking daughters in his proof. +343kg of milk with positive components. Also a great Cell Count improver at -16.
Regan ALH DOODAD – Proven calving ease suitable for heifers. Combining +9.4 for fertility with +298kg of milk and positive percentages for fat and protein.