Sexed dairy semen extended its dominance as the preferred choice for breeding on dairy farms according to a recent AHDB survey of breeding companies. In the 12 months to March 2022, sales of sexed semen made up 70.5% of all dairy semen sales, up from 63.5% in 2021. Sales were highest for Holsteins, where sexed semen made up 76% of all dairy purchases, followed by Jerseys at 71% and averaged 50% for other breeds.
Marco Winters, AHDB Head of Animal Genetics, said: "The figures reflect the higher confidence farmers have when choosing sexed semen. Sales have risen almost fivefold since 2017 when they made up just 17.9% of the total and I can only see this trend continuing." The survey also showed beef semen sales to the dairy herd had risen to 48%, up from 45.3% of total sales in 2021. "We're seeing a similar knock-on effect on sales of beef semen, as fewer replacements are needed so more cows are being served for beef," continued Winters. "Sexed semen is a great option for farmers looking to breed replacements from their best females and lift overall herd performance and profitability."
Farmers can inform their breeding decisions by using AHDB's herd genetic report to identify which animals to breed to dairy and which to beef. The results are welcome news for AHDB and NFU's national dairy calf strategy which aims to eliminate calf euthanasia by 2023 and increase the number of male calves entering the beef supply chain. Nic Parsons, AHDB Head of Dairy Engagement said: "The continued rise in the use of sexed dairy and beef semen is hugely encouraging and shows the industry's commitment to addressing the bull calf issue."
The GB Dairy Calf Strategy can be found at ahdb.org.uk/GB-calf-strategy