For dairy producers incorporating beef semen into their breeding programs, there are a lot of benefits. Some of those are detailed below by participants in our Round Table “We breed for the number we need” that can be found on pages 116 to 118 of the February 25, 2020, issue of Hoard’s Dairyman. Along with some benefits come some cautions that our Round Table participants also spoke to.
“As for the advantages of using beef semen, we have a higher quality beef animal to market. It’s an animal that’s going to have a better yield gain than a Holstein. The steers are more efficient when it comes to cost per pound of gain and are a better-quality end product,” Dane, Wis., dairyman Devin Helt explained.
“In evaluating disadvantages, everyone has the idea that fertility of beef semen is better. It’s not, it’s the same as regular, conventional semen, and since we are breeding our lower end animals to beef, we’re not seeing the pregnancy rates that we do on top animals,” the co-owner of Helt Dairy continued.
Three other farms shared additional insight in this Hoard’s Dairyman Intel as well as the Round Table. Here are their responses regarding the question, “Any other advantages or disadvantages to using beef semen?”
Oakridge Dairy, Ellington, Conn.: I can’t say we’ve seen a huge advantage or disadvantage to using beef semen, but the beef calves are definitely a benefit to us. On the income side, not raising extra heifers that are going to flood the market in the future has been an advantage, too.
I feel like as an industry, the use of beef semen increases the value and quality of the beef market. We are creating a higher quality calf than the Holstein bull calves we were contributing before. We are raising the bar on the standard of the beef that is being consumed.
It might not be the right choice for everyone, but I think that this has been 100% the right thing for us.
SwissLane Farms, Alto, Mich.: There’s a huge benefit to the bottom line in terms of bull calf sales, but also beef semen is less than $10 a unit. We are saving on the semen and getting a premium when we sell the calf.
A disadvantage we monitor closely is conception rate. Not that all beef semen has low conception rate, but some does. When we started using beef semen, we didn’t understand the beef conception rate. I assumed that any beef semen would do well and that’s not true. I was worried about calving ease, but the heifers have calved really well.
Zahncroft Dairy, Womelsdorf, Pa.: We have found beef semen to have the additional benefits of lower cost, higher fertility rates, and producing heartier calves.
Read more on how these farms breed for the number they need in February 25 issue or in these Hoard’s Dairyman Intels.
Too many heifers. Now what?
Culling and heifer inventories are tied
It’s either sexed or beef semen for them
Beef semen makes the whole farm better