“We do not use sexed semen on cows. However, our heifers get two services to sexed semen,” said Kurt Magnan. “If they do not settle from two services of sexed semen, they get bred to a Jersey. We have been using sexed semen on heifers for just over a year,” said Magnan, who owns Copperhill Farm of Fairfax, Vt., with his multigenerational family.
“To slow down on the resulting heifer calves, we are only breeding the top 50 percent of heifers to sexed semen based on parent averages. We recently started genomic testing our heifers and that information will be used to better choose what animals we want bred sexed,” noted Magnan of his farm that won Platinum honors in this year’s Dairy Cattle Reproduction Council’s ninth annual awards competition.
All six of this year’s Platinum winners of the Dairy Cattle Reproduction Council’s awards share additional insight in this Hoard’s Dairyman Intel as well as the Round Table found on pages 707 to 709 of the November issue of Hoard’s Dairyman. This year a record 128 herds were nominated for the award from 18 U.S. states and Canadian provinces.
Here are additional responses to the question, “Do you use sexed semen?”
Dunlea Dairy Farm, Coudersport, Pa.: All heifers receive sexed semen up to three times and all first-lactation cows at first service. After that approach, we revert to conventional semen. Our use of sexed semen has not changed based on the economic environment.
Pfeifer Dairy Farm, Bucyrus, Ohio: We do not use sexed semen.
Pine Hollow Dairy, Locke, N.Y.: We do not use sexed semen. Given our pregnancy rates, we already have twice as many heifers entering the milking string as we need to support our 22 percent cull rate. We sell approximately 250 heifers each year and struggle to generate enough revenue from the sale to cover our costs. Given that situation, we have been considering breeding a portion of the herd to beef breeds.
Seidl Mountain View Dairy, Luxemburg, Wis.: We do not use sexed semen.
SunBurst Dairy, Belleville, Wis.: At this time we are not using sexed semen. In the past, we used it on virgin heifers and liked the product for less stress at calving time. However, we also were breeding at an earlier age because of conception rate drop. Given our herd’s pregnancy rates, we’ve been fortunate to have animals to sell as dairy in our current system, even without using sexed semen.
This Hoard’s Dairyman Intel article is part of an eight-part series detailing top reproduction tips from the Platinum-winning herds for the ninth annual Dairy Cattle Reproduction Council awards competition.
Click here to view previous reports from this DCRC series:
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(c) Hoard's Dairyman Intel 2016
November 21, 2016