Cefn Amwlch Project introduction

There are many reasons why sexed semen should be used and indeed many dairy units that operate different systems have and do use sexed semen very successfully. Some of the main benefits of sexed semen include:-

  • Targeted genetic improvement from the best cows and heifers
  • More female calves from higher genetic merit animals
  • Easier calvings
  • Less male bull calves of lower value`
  • Improve public image and animal welfare of unwanted male calves
  • Option to use more beef semen on lower genetic merit animals and increase calf sales

However although its benefits are numerous it does come at a price, the process of flow cytometry (semen sorting) can damage the sperm cells during this process and also the total number of sorted cells per dose is markedly less than conventional. Freezing and thawing will also slightly impair y its viability in the same way it does with conventional semen. During the early years of its release in the late 90’s it was suggested that sexed semen should only be used on maiden heifers, however advancements in the sorting and handling stage has improved dramatically and many herds now use sexed semen on high genetic merit cows in their third and fourth lactation providing there are no obvious uterine or metabolic issues.           

Herd improvement will become more important as herd size and land prices become limiting factors for output, also as some processors now pay per kg of milk solids produced as opposed to volume. Milk recording has recently become a requirement for some of the EU conditional aid funding that has been made available to farmers and this opportunity should be taken to highlight the benefits of milk recording to improve the genetic gains possible in spring calving grass based herds.

Results will be available after scanning has taken place in June.