As this year’s dairy bull calf crisis starts to wind down, dairy farmers begin their search for answers to the problem for spring 2020.
One option that has been discussed and dismissed more often than not is that of sexed semen. However, sexed semen has yet to make any lasting impressions amongst farmers.
Speaking at a recent breeding information meeting, Seamus Hughes – a Progressive Genetics dairy breeding advisor – outlined some of his concerns regarding the future of sexed semen for the dairy industry.
He said: “The biggest sexed semen trial was done in 2013 and the results were average-to-poor.
“There was another trial done only last spring on what was to be a different product, but I’ve always had my doubts about this.
The long of the short is that the results of last year’s trials were marginally worse than the trials in 2013.
“There is a theory out there now and it is being tested this spring by Stephen Butler in Teagasc, which is based around the timing of AI and we’ll see what happens.
“But at the moment, sexed semen is about 74%. So, if your normal conventional semen is at 100% – as a benchmark – sexed semen is at about 74% of that. In my mind it is not there at all yet.”
Finally, he concluded by saying: “Conception rates are hugely herd dependent in the sense that it is all over the place – in terms of farmers getting on reasonably well and farmers having a complete disaster.”