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20 Apr 2021

X-Vik sexed semen accelerates genetic progress and strengthens bottom-line

The use of sexed semen is becoming increasingly popular, and an even more rapid growth in the adoption of sexed semen is being observed among Jersey breeders around the world.

The sexed semen era for Jersey breeders in the Nordic countries started back in 2004, when the bulls Q Impuls and Q Zik were sent to the Cogent bull station in the United Kingdom. Here they produced sexed semen at the first sexing laboratory in Europe.

Already at that time the aim was to reduce the number of pure-bred Jersey bull calves, which was negatively affecting the profitability of the Jersey herds, and avoid culling newborn calves.

Q Impuls was the first Jersey bull to be marketed with sexed semen on the global market.

From 2006, a sexing lab was set up in Denmark and production of sexed semen from VikingJersey bulls continued there.

Full acceptance of sexed semen among Jersey breeders

In the Nordic countries, Jersey breeders have extensively adapted sexed semen strategies to increase genetic progress and avoid purebred Jersey bull calves. In March 2021, the use of sexed semen on Jerseys reached 72% of all dairy doses and it is expected that nearly all Jersey doses will be sexed by the end of the year.

The growing popularity of sexed semen is also observed in other countries, where our Jersey breeding program partners operate. In Norway, 99% of the total sales of VikingJersey semen is sexed, in France 57% and in the United Kingdom 50%.

99% sexed semen is the highest ratio of sexed semen used in a National Jersey population worldwide. These numbers reflect the Norwegian Jersey breeder’s active decision to use only sexed Jersey semen to breed a superior next generation.

“They are following a profitable and progressive breeding strategy to speed up genetic trends and to breed surplus heifers to expand the Jersey population in Norway”, explains Peter Larson, Product & Breeding manager for VikingJersey.

Jersey dairy cow

Sexed semen strategies speed up genetic progress

There are a number of reasons for focusing on using sexed semen. Firstly, by using sexed semen on your best animals, you can increase genetic progress in general and speed up the trend on prioritized traits. You can rely on genomic testing to increase reliability when making the selection. It is a widely adopted practice among Jersey breeders to use sexed semen on the highest-ranking part of the herd.

Secondly, with a high demand and good prices on surplus offspring, you can benefit from using X-Vik sexed semen on the middle group of the herd to generate surplus heifers for sale.

It is the preferred strategy for many Jersey herd owners in Denmark. Heifers are raised and sold as pregnant heifers to mainland Europe (approx. 10.000 heifers are exported from Denmark each year and contribute to the expansion of the breed).  

The lowest ranking part of the herd is bred to beef in order to increase the value of the calf. To maximize the economic result, more and more are using sexed beef semen (Y-Vik) to get approx. 90% Beef x Jersey bull calves. The value of these calves is much higher than pure bred dairy bull calves.

Last but not least, Jersey breeders in the Nordic countries have to change strategies because culling of newborn Jersey bull calves will be banned from 2022.

Jersey dairy cow heifers

Rapid increase in use of sexed semen for Jerseys

The use of sexed semen has increased greatly over the last five years. As you can see from the genetic trends curves below, the genetic trend for Jersey cows has increased more in the past few years than from 2004 to 2015.

The trend is expected to be even higher over the coming years as nearly all replacement heifers (next generation) will be a result of sexed semen used on highest ranking females in the herd. 

The graph shows genetic trend on Jersey cows in Denmark for NTM, Production and Udder conformation from 2001 to 2020.

The growth in usage of sexed semen has increased by an impressive 45% in 2020 compared to the level in 2018. The development in use of different semen categories can be seen in the table below.

In the coming years we expect that the use of Beef will increase rapidly and most of the Beef semen used on Jerseys will be Y-Vik.

Semen

2018

2019

2020

Exp. 2021

X-Vik Jersey

38%

52%

55%

70%

Conv. Jersey

53%

35%

26%

5%

Y-Vik Beef

0%

2%

3%

10%

Conv. Beef

9%

11%

16%

15%

The preferred Beef breeds to be used on Jerseys are:

  • Danish Blue (70%)
  • Angus (20%)
  • Charolais (10%).

The Beef bulls are selected based on the NBDI index (Nordic Beef on Dairy Index) where both functional and production traits are prioritized.     

Read more about beef on Jersey

High semen quality and high gender purity rates

The sex rate on VikingJersey X-Vik sexed semen is consistently 90-92%. Results on the Beef Y-Vik sexed semen are close to the same level.

We track the field performance for conception rates for sexed semen closely for each batch produced. In this way, we are able to follow performance for the individual bull semen ejaculates – from production to sorting, insemination and monitoring reproduction performance in the herds.

The data is carefully analyzed and used to optimize all processes and learn about factors affecting the conception rates. Conception rates are 90% of what we experience with conventional semen, both at home markets and in markets where conditions are different.

By using the combination of X-Vik sexed semen and VikingBeef you can ensure that the next generation of Jersey females will be some of your highest-ranking animals.

This progressive sexed semen strategy will boost both the sustainability and profitability profiles of your herd by achieving high and reliable progress for health, fertility, and longevity traits. At the same time, you also maximize profits from crossbred beef calves by using beef semen on the lowest ranking animals - and that is a true win-win!

Learn more about X-Vik sexed semen

 

 

Text by Peter Larson

Senior Jersey Breeding Manager

Jersey dairy cow