The usage of sexed semen, or semen sorted based on gender, is turning into extra available to suckler farmers in Northern Eire.
Sexed semen compared to typical semen is dearer, however it carries many benefits.
One main benefit is the flexibility to focus on maternal and terminal genetics to particular breeding inventory.
The Faculty of Agriculture, Meals and Rural Enterprise’s (CAFRE’s) beef and sheep adviser, Colin McEvoy, just lately met with suckler farmer John Cultra who’s efficiently utilizing sexed semen on his suckler farm in Co. Down.
John operates a closed-herd coverage and since he started utilizing sexed semen on his suckler cows he doesn’t must breed as lots of his herd to a maternal bull because the chance of a heifer calf from sexed semen is considerably elevated.
This in flip permits for extra of the herd to be bred to terminal sires whereas nonetheless sustaining the required variety of alternative females being born.
The cows that are bred to terminal sires may be individually chosen for synthetic insemination (AI) or pure service to terminal sires with superior progress and carcass traits, leading to better-performing calves which helps to extend the output from the herd.
Sexed semen challenges
Whereas there are numerous advantages to sexed semen, it does include challenges too. One problem John has observed on his farm is the potential of decrease conception charges in comparison with typical semen.
To maximise conception charges, it is very important pay explicit consideration to straw dealing with and the AI process on the time of breeding.
On the Cultra’s farm, the usage of sexed semen was prioritised on maiden heifers as they’re typically extra fertile and may have increased conception charges when in comparison with cows.
In John’s case, ten maiden heifers have been synchronised and served through fixed-time AI (FTAI) with feminine sexed semen (semen to provide a feminine).
Six heifer calves have been born to this primary service, leading to a conception fee of 60%.
By opting to make use of sexed feminine semen, John famous that delivery weights have been decrease, aiding calving ease on these heifers which have been calving for the primary time at 24 months.
CAFRE has provided the next tricks to suckler farmers contemplating the usage of sexed semen:
- Resolve if the semen is for use on cows or heifers and determine is it appropriate for maiden heifers;
- Guarantee all meant vaccinations are administered, veterinary checks carried out and dosing is accomplished (if required);
- Ahead-plan feeding necessities to make sure all animals to be served are on and rising aircraft of vitamin.
- If serving maiden heifers, guarantee they’ve met their goal service liveweight (60% of mature weight at service);
- File particulars of these animals seen biking already and monitor if they’re biking usually;
- Take into account whether or not these animals will likely be served on noticed heats or synchronised. If synchronising, plan it out, talk about along with your vet and AI technician if utilizing one.
If farmers are breeding cows themselves, guarantee all AI protocols are adhered to when it comes to semen dealing with, thawing and insemination timing and method:
- Pre-warm insemination weapons to physique temperature;
- Thaw straws at 35 – 37°C for 45 seconds;
- Full insemination confidently and promptly inside 5 minutes;
- Guarantee enough and correct dealing with amenities can be found to cut back stress on the animals being served;
- Restrain animals to be served previous to thawing the straw;
- When heifers are to be inseminated with sexed semen after noticed heats, AI must be performed 14-20 hours after the onset of warmth;
- Hold dealing with and stress on the animals to a minimal after service and preserve aircraft of vitamin publish service;
- Plan to look at for repeats and think about using warmth detection aids akin to tail paint.
John plans to make use of sexed semen once more this yr, permitting him to proceed producing feminine replacements from high-genetic-merit maternal bulls mated with the most effective maternal females in his herd.
With the variability in conception charges, he depends on an skilled, competent AI technician to hold out the AI process.
He’s additionally cautious in his animal choice; animal vitamin; pre and publish service; and animal dealing with throughout and after service.
Though the usage of sexed semen has added further expense to his system, it provides John better management and permits him the chance to decide on the calf intercourse which may have an enormous profit inside his breeding technique.