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Saturday 21 April 2018

Team of 11 bulls deployed for sexed semen trial

Dr Butler said that the sexed semen product has evolved since its last trial over four years ago.
Dr Butler said that the sexed semen product has evolved since its last trial over four years ago.

louise hogan

A team of 11 bulls will be used in a new sexed semen trial to assess its fertility compared with conventional straws during the new breeding season.

Sexed semen has already been flagged as having a potential role in reducing unwanted bull calves off crossbred dairy herds.

Teagasc researcher Dr Stephen Butler explained that it is aiming for around 200 farmers who will be identified as suitable through ICBF and invited to take part in the trial starting next month.

The farmers taking part will be using 60 straws, including 30 of conventional semen and 30 sexed semen.

Dr Butler said that the sexed semen product has evolved since its last trial over four years ago.

He pointed out it would be "more attractive" for crossbreeding herds but it also has "values" such as using the best dams to deliver herd replacements and reducing calving difficulties.

"Sexed semen, if it is a high fertility product, is a win for the dairy industry," he said, adding that if the fertility was good then farmers should be using it.

He pointed out it was a product best suited to high fertility herds.

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A team of 11 bulls from Dovea and NCBC were sent to sorting labs with the semen sorted and returned frozen. Now, Dr Butler said it has to get the farmers to agree to use it and take part. Sexed semen is more expensive than conventional so there would be an incentive for the farmer to take part as they will pay only the cost of conventional semen straws and for AI.

Ger Ryan from Dovea Genetics said it was important to assess the new SexedUltra technology that offers an increased four million sperm per straw in a spring calving grass-based system.

"We sent two Jersey bulls, two genomic Holstein Friesians and one daughter proven Holstein Frieisian. The results, if positive, should lead to an uptake," he said.

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