Dairy industry urged to revisit sexed semen

Picture Clare Keogh
Picture Clare Keogh
Louise Hogan

Louise Hogan

There must be an opportunity to address the lack of sexed semen in use, said chief operations officer at ABP Finbarr McDonnell.

Mr McDonnell said he believes there is a role there for sexed semen.

“There must be an opportunity in the industry to do something with sexed semen, it was looked at and it faded away, but I think it will come back,” he said.

The ICBF’s Dr Andrew Cromie predicted that sexed semen will kick in sometime in the next five to six years.

Teagasc’s Padraig French said if “sexed semen takes off”, there could be over a million beef X dairy calves.

Mr McDonnell, who launched new trial research showing an improved margin of €150 to €200 depending on the beef sire selected for dairy crosses, said market triggers will eventually influence dairy farmers to choose sires delivering good conformation for beef production.

“It will be like turning the Titanic, but why did they turn to Angus and Hereford?” he questioned. “Because they saw that the calf is going to be worth more money and they will have a market.

“I hate talking about the alternative but the ­alternative is Friesian calves, which are an animal welfare problem,” he said.

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Mr McDonnell said it is something that will evolve over the next five to six years.

He said that over the last three years, carcasses have become lighter.

“There is nothing in this for us only weight cost — heavier animals are a lower cost,” he said.

However, he said the move to cut farmers for heavier cattle over 460kg has also aided in bringing the weights down.

“So we are not complaining but the worry we would have is that the 600,000 extra cattle coming through — if they were of poor sire they would have a lighter weight and that is a big cost,” he said.

“All we are trying to do is change the thinking on the 600,000."

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