A growing number of dairy producers are using beef semen on their farms, and perhaps no statistic highlights that point better than the remarkable growth in domestic beef semen sales. That trend continued in 2023, when more than 9.4 million units of beef semen were sold in the U.S.

Up 4.6% from the year before, 2023’s sales posted a new record and made it six straight years of record high sales. Less than a decade ago, in 2015, 2.5 million units had been the all-time high. The biggest leap in sales was witnessed in 2018, when sales skyrocketed 58% from the year before.

Of the 9.4 million units of beef semen sold domestically in 2023, 7.9 million units were used in dairy herds, according to numbers recently released by the National Association of Animal Breeders (NAAB). That was up nearly 1 million units from the year before. At the same time, beef semen sold for use in beef cattle, both domestically and in the export market, was down 1.4 million units.

Overall, the U.S. bovine semen industry reported a 4% decline in total unit sales, down 2.9 million units from 2022. This was partly due to a 4% decline in domestic dairy semen sales, marking the fourth year of reduced dairy semen sales. Exports of both dairy and beef semen were also down, falling 8% and 6% from 2022, respectively. When taking into account export sales, overall beef semen sales were down 2%.

The decline in exports is noteworthy as it represents a significant proportion of sales, especially for dairy semen. For example, export markets bought 21 million units of conventional dairy semen in 2023. That was three times what was sold domestically.

In addition to higher beef semen use, U.S. dairy producers are also using more gender-selected semen. Domestic sales of this product were up by 518,000 units or 7% in 2023. According to the NAAB, gender-selected dairy semen now represents 54% of the dairy semen used in dairy cattle.

Gender-selected is now the most used category of semen in dairy cattle, representing 8.4 million units. With beef-on-dairy sales of 7.9 million units in 2023, that was the second largest category, followed by conventional dairy semen with 7 million units sold last year.

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(c) Hoard's Dairyman Intel 2024
April 15, 2024
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