Domestic semen sales of beef breeds skyrocketed 128% in the past two years to reach 5.8 million units. That’s up from 2017’s 2.5 million units.

Those who work in the A.I. industry may think the title to this article contains a bold projection . . . “Beef on dairy more than doubled in two years.”

However, we believe the statement is true.

Although one cannot definitively confirm into what dam . . . dairy cow, dairy heifer, beef cow, or beef heifer . . . each and every unit of beef semen went into, we do know this: A.I. use on America’s beef ranches is very low compared to dairy farms.

Here is the three-year trend on domestic beef semen sales according to the just released 2019 statistics from the National Association of Animal Breeders (NAAB):

  • 2017: 2.5 million total units, up 3.9% from the previous year
  • 2018: 4 million total units, up 58.4% from the previous year
  • 2019: 5.8 million total units, up 44.4% from the previous year

As for the top breeds marketed, Angus led the parade with 3.2 million units or 54.4% of sales. Next came Limousin and Simmental in a virtual dead heat at 13.4% and 13.3%, respectively. Together those three breeds captured 81.1% of the category.

The 2019 market trend reinforces the 2018 dynamic as detailed in “Beef-on-dairy semen sales skyrocketed in 2018.”

Dairy units were down
In the past two years, domestic dairy sales dropped from 2017’s 23.2 million units to 2019’s 19.5 million units. That 19.5 million figure is the lowest total since 2006.

When it comes to specific dairy breeds, only the Red and White Holstein posted a gain by expanding 35.6% this past year. Here are breed totals for each breed:

  • Holstein, 15.9 million units, down 11.5%
  • Jersey, 3 million units, down 8.6%
  • Red and White Holstein, 288,000 units, up 35.6%
  • Holstein, Red Carrier, 143,000 units, down 34.7%
  • Brown Swiss, 82,300 units, down 8.3%
  • Ayrshire, 26,900 units, down 4.8%
  • Guernsey, 26,600 units, down 4.5%
  • Milking Shorthorn, 17,100 units, down 19.9%
  • Other dairy breeds, 17,100 units, down 38%

In the import semen category, Holstein and Jersey both showed growth. Holstein imports moved from 8,869 to 119,031 units in the past year for a 1,242.1% growth. Jersey moved from 2018’s 4,309 units to 30,963 for a gain of 618.6%.

Of note, bulls destined for crossbreeding were off significantly, as Norwegian Red, Montbeliarde, and Swedish Red fell 15.1%, 21.5%, and 27.8%, respectively.

Exports hit a record
Semen exports to other countries reached a new record of 25.5 million units. That was up 4% from 2018’s total of 24.6 million units.

Of those sales, Holstein bulls accounted for 90.7% or 23.2 million units. If one added the Red and White Holsteins and the Holstein Red Carriers, that total leapt to 93.7%.

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(c) Hoard's Dairyman Intel 2020
April 16, 2020
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