Using sexed semen in your dairy herd can help reduce rearing costs and increase the potential profit.
By selectively using sexed semen to breed replacement heifers from your best cows, you can reduce rearing costs by only rearing the heifers you need.
Our Breed4Better campaign pulls together resources to help consider your options about using sexed semen and make informed decisions.
Our calculator helps explore semen usage scenarios for your farm taking into account the market value of calves, conception rates and TB losses to create a realistic illustration for different scenarios. It even takes into account bull costs for farms using natural service.
Practical uses of sexed semen for block calvers webinar
Steve West from our Knowledge Exchange team talks to dairy farmer Andrew Gilman about his breeding policies and goals, and how his herd has evolved over recent years.
The role of genetics in fertility
Herds that milk record can identify the best heifers to breed from by using our Herd Genetic Report, which allows you to establish your most productive cows genetically and select those that have a positive fertility index to further boost the herds' future fertility performance.
What people say about sexed semen
The performance of sexed semen relative to conventional has improved markedly in the last few years which makes using it a more attractive option for Dairy farmers. Sexed semen increases the likelihood of having a heifer calf to over 90%. In addition to using sexed semen on your best cows, inseminating the rest of your herd with high-quality beef sires will produce a calf that the beef market requires which will result in even greater profit.
Steve West, AHDB Knowledge Exchange Manager
Sexed semen is more expensive than conventional semen but beef semen is a bit cheaper, so overall, we were quite surprised that it didn’t cost as much as we thought. Our conception rates also remained at a good level, I am achieving 61% with conventional semen and 57% with sexed. Our six-week in calf rate is usually 71% and I am expecting somewhere close to 76%.
It is important to spend time choosing which cows are suitable. In our herd, cows must have had no instances of mastitis during the previous lactation, must have got in calf first time and be due to calve at the start of the calving window and she must suit our system.
Jack Munday, Town Barton Dairy a 250-cow autumn calved herd
For block calvers, we know that animals selected for sexed semen service are based on practical reasons like detection of heats early in the service window. But to improve your future success, it is important to also consider the animals' genetic ability. Improved genetics for the fertility index will help to maintain a tight calving block. The Herd Genetic Report is a useful identifier of which animals you should plan to breed to sexed semen, which can be done long before you reach the service window. In addition, the inbreeding checker can also help you ensure you maintain genetic vigour.
Fern Pearston, AHDB Animal Genetics Manager