Preliminary data provides a boost for sexed semen technology
Early results from sexed semen usage on Irish farms this spring suggest that the technology continues to improve.
The scanning results from over 3,000 cows inseminated this spring with seven bulls that were distributed by the National Cattle Breeding Centre (NCBC) show that there was little or no difference between the conception rates between the sexed and non-sexed semen from the same bulls.
In fact, the average conception rate across the seven bulls for sexed semen was 66pc, compared to 64pc for conventional semen.
One of the bulls had a sexed semen conception rate of 79pc across nearly 250 animals.
However, NCBC CEO Bernard Eivers cautioned on reading too much into the data since it had not been screened to remove the impact of many factors that could skew the outcomes.
"For example, it's quite likely that there were more heifers in the group that the sexed semen was used on, which could increase the conception rates in that group," he said.
Mr Eivers did admit though that he was happily surprised by the results.
"They do show the promise of the technology but farmers are still very wary, and how can you blame them? We've spent the last 15 years stressing the importance of fertility and conception rates, so farmers are understandably cool about a new technology that has only been able to offer 85pc of the conventional conception rate up to this point," he said.