200 dairy herds required for sexed semen trial

A major sexed semen field trial is set to get underway on Irish dairy farms this spring.

ICBF (Irish Cattle Breeding Federation), Teagasc and partner AI companies – including Dovea Genetics, Munster Cattle Breeding Group and Progressive Genetics – are proposing to undertake a trial to establish the relative performance of sexed semen compared to conventional semen.

ICBF issued letters to numerous dairy farmers in recent days to seek participation in the trial.

Approximately 200 dairy herds have been asked to sign up, with each herd taking 60 straws from five different high-EBI bulls (30 sexed and 30 conventional). As part of the programme, the semen must be used on lactating cows.

Semen will be used from 11 different bulls – nine Holstein Friesian and two Jersey – and it has been X-sorted (heifer) to 90% purity.

Table source: ICBF

The letter stated: “The trial will be based on first inseminations only and will be undertaken through the AI technician service provided by each of the partner AI companies.

“All inseminations will be recorded on the technician handheld device. Both the sexed semen straws and the conventional semen straws will be provided at the list price for conventional semen straws for that bull (plus technician service fee).”

Farmers using DIY AI, the letter states, will need to engage the services of an AI technician for the duration of the trial.