By Jim Dickrell, Editor, Dairy Today
U.S. dairy producers will have 772,000 more heifers available from 2008 through 2012, thanks to sexed semen technology that started coming on-line in 2006.
That’s according to estimates by Albert DeVries, a dairy specialist with the University of Florida. De Vries made his estimates based on information provided by USDA and Dairy Herd Improvement Record processing centers.
“The first heifer calves conceived with sexed semen in early 2006 were starting to enter the milking herds in late 2008,” he says. “A total of 722,000 extra heifers are projected to calve in the five years from 2008 to 2012.”
2008: 8,000 heifers
The reason numbers tail off in 2012 is that reported inseminations with sexed semen declined during 2009, a time of extremely low milk prices and tight margins. The Data Records Management System in Raleigh, N.C., for example, reports sexed semen use in heifers was nearly 23% in April 2009. But May through December, 2009, the reported used varied between 20.2% and 21.6%.
And while the numbers seem high, the percentage of extra heifers is not. That’s because 48% of the pregnancies would have been heifers with the use of conventional semen anyway. On a percentage basis, the sexed semen provides 7% to 8% more heifers at current usage rates, says De Vries.