Sexed semen from ‘elite New Zealand bulls’ to hit Irish market

Sexed semen from a “premier selection” of elite bulls will be available for Irish dairy farmers for the first time from the Livestock Improvement Company (LIC) this spring.

A statement from the LIC noted that demand is expected to be high, as “the best bulls will be on offer, and many producers have been waiting to be able to take advantage of this opportunity”.

The LIC’s European general manager Mark Ryder said: “It’s a fact that some bulls sex better than others.

“We’ve taken our time to select bulls that have been proven to sex well and perform within a grass-based farming system. These are our top bulls.

Mark Ryder

“We will start collecting in New Zealand in January. The straws will then go into quarantine and storage while various tests are carried out, and then we can ship.

“Our aim is to have supplies here at the start of March.”

The aim is to have eight bulls sexed, and at the moment the LIC can confirm five of the bulls that will be on offer:
  • Maire IG Gauntlet-ET (62 113086);
  • Bells CM Conrad (312057);
  • Okura LT Integrity (311013);
  • Glen Koru Epic (514018);
  • Arkans Beaut-ET (511026).

“Fertility has been one of the biggest challenges facing the Irish dairy industry in the past 10 years and many farmers have made improvements in this area,” says Mark.

“No one will want to throw away the gains made, so sexed semen will not be for everyone, especially when farmers need to keep to a very tight block calving system. It’s a case of not throwing the baby out with the bathwater.”

Ryder added: “It needs to be used wisely, maybe as part of a herd improvement programme, such as on maiden heifers, the most fertile, and the most likely to get in calf, or on a cow that calved early and displayed a strong heat prior to mating.

A definite driver is the need for farmers to continually demonstrate the highest level of animal welfare management on farm to satisfy the high standards demanded by the consumer.

“But these drivers have got to be very strong if you’re going to take a hit on your block calving system.”

More information is available on the LIC website.