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Gender-sorted semen and the commercial herd

Author: Kristy

Mary Soukup, Editor, Drovers CattleNetwork  |  Updated: 03/10/2014

The current spring calving season is still in full swing but it’s never too early to make plans for next year’s calf crop – from deciding when to turn out bulls to selecting semen to use for artificial insemination service and more. For commercial producers who already use AI service in their herds, according to researchers at the University of Idaho, it’s also time to consider whether it makes sense – from a management and economic standpoint – to consider using gender-sorted semen.

The commercial availability of gender-sorted semen from beef bulls is relatively new to the scene and the number and genetic diversity of beef bulls with gender-sorted semen is limited compared to that of AI beef bulls with conventional semen. As with any new technology, there are some limitations producers should consider when weighing the pros and potential cons of utilizing gender-sorted semen. First, pregnancy rates are decreased between 10 and 20 percent compared to conventional semen. While fixed-time AI systems (FTAI) work with gender-sorted semen, cows or heifers that are inseminated based on estrus or exhibit of estrus before FTAI have a greater pregnancy rate to gender-sorted semen the researchers say. According to the researchers from Idaho, there is considerable variation in pregnancy rates from bull-to-bull with gender-sorted semen, which could be due to low number of inseminations per bull.

There are multiple potential benefits that could come from utilizing gender-sorted semen in commercial herds, ranging from enhancing genetic progress and shifting gender ratios for marketing purposes.

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