The latest sales figures are confirming a continuing and strong demand for quality, sexed dairy semen in Northern Ireland.

According to AI Services’ Ivan Minford, this reflects the needs of milk producers with year-round calving herds to maintain a constant supply of replacement heifers.

“In addition, farmers with predominantly autumn and winter calving herds must plan to produce a greater number of replacement heifers than they actually need on paper.

“Not every calf survives up to point of calving as a replacement heifer. The use of sexed semen is allowing milk producers to more efficiently plan their breeding programmes.

“As a rule of thumb, they should plan to calve down an additional 10 to 15% of heifer calves above their actual herd replacement figure, simply to cover all eventualities,” according to Minford.

Autumn and winter calving cows

Ivan is also cautioning producers with autumn and winter calving cows not to switch to beef semen too early this spring.

“The increased use of sexed semen over the past couple of years has brought about a significant increase in the number of replacement dairy heifers that are available right now.

“Milk producers must be thinking two to three years ahead in terms for their breeding programmes. In practical terms, this means sticking to a well thought out, long-term breeding programme, centred on the use of sexed semen.

“A strong push towards the use of beef semen at the present time could well result in a significant under supply of dairy replacement heifers two years hence.”

Ivan made these comments against the backdrop of AI Services launching the company’s inaugural ‘Holstein Spring Update’.

“The new publication allows us to update the performance figures that feature in both the August and December Holstein bull runs.

Ivan confirmed that the ‘Spring Update’ features quality sires with both genomic and daughter proofs.

“We are currently featuring seven of the Top 20 PLI listing sires. Significantly, three of the Top 5 PLI bulls are available to us.”

A case in point is Peak ALTAORVAR. He is the current number one PLI sire with a value of £925. In addition, he has a staggering daughter fertility index of +12.8.

Turning to bulls with daughter proofs, Ivan specifically highlighted the performance of Peak ALTA INDIGO.

There are currently 965 daughters across 174 herds in his production proof. Within his type proof, a total of 40 daughters have been classified with 32 scoring 82 points and above as heifers.