Britain leads world in uptake of sexed dairy semen

Sales of sexed semen has increased to 84% of all dairy semen, AHDB's survey shows
Sales of sexed semen has increased to 84% of all dairy semen, AHDB's survey shows

A survey of British breeding firms has revealed another jump in the adoption of sexed dairy semen, alongside a rise in the sale of beef semen in the dairy herd.

Data collected by AHDB over the year ending April 2024 shows that sales of sexed semen increased to 84% of all dairy semen, from the 2023 figure of 76%.

The Holstein breed remains the most popular breed, and they average even higher at 88% of all their semen sold as sexed.

Increased use of sexed dairy also enables a higher update of beef semen on the rest of the herd. Sales of beef are for the first time outstripping dairy, with beef now representing 52% of all semen sold to dairy farms.

AHDB said this presents 'excellent opportunities' for dairy farmers to selectively breed only their most elite females for dairy replacements, further accelerating genetic progress within the dairy herd.

The levy board has advised farmers to use the tools available to them to pinpoint their best females to breed from, such as genomic evaluations and AHDB’s Herd Genetic Report.

This shift in semen use directly impacts the beef supply chain through the larger proportion of beef crosses that the dairy sector is now producing.

But they also stand to benefit from the genetic improvements in efficiency of the dairy herd, as these improved genetics filter through in their offspring.

Marco Winters, AHDB head of animal genetics, said: "UK dairy farmers are leading the world in the adoption of sexed semen.

"[They] should be commended on their progressive attitude to adopting modern technologies to improve their herd efficiencies."