Sexed semen now accounts for almost one in three inseminations in the UK, according to the Agriculture and Horticulture Development Board (AHDB).

The use of dairy sexed semen has doubled in the last five years, according to the board’s most recent survey, with the last two years showing a marked increase.

Overall, AHDB statistics show sexed semen usage to be 31.9% in 2019.

The board added that data from the year ending April 2019 also shows that of all semen sold, the percentage of dairy increased and the amount of beef reduced.

According to AHDB dairy and livestock analyst Jennie Tanner, the results “point to growing confidence in sexed semen mirroring the improvement in performance over the last few years which have made it more appealing for dairy farmers to use”.

The use of sexed semen on the best cows means that beef semen can be used for the rest of the herd allowing for a calf which will have more value for the beef market.

The annual survey is carried out in April each year, Tanner noted.

“However, data from more recent months suggests that the use of beef semen has dropped away again and the use of sorted dairy semen has continued to increase.

“This could well be in response to the current poor beef price, with returns for finished cattle low, farmers may be reluctant to put their cows in calf to a beef animal anticipating poor returns,” the analyst concluded.