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Best Semen Use Policy: Buy It and Use It

Dairy Pipeline: July 1997

by Bennett Cassell
Genetics and Management
Virginia Tech

Where does the time go between a decision to use an AI bull and the time daughters freshen? Quite a bit of that time is while semen is sitting in the farm semen tank! Most producers have a bit more semen in inventory than they need. Years ago, the problem was worse. Farmers would "hoard" semen in hopes the price would go up. Genetic trend reduced the value of most semen, and very few farmers hold semen for several years anymore. However, many producers use a "first in, first out" policy and keep six months' semen or so on hand. This means that any newly purchased semen has to wait its turn. A good target would be to have all daughters of any AI bull chosen for use on the ground within the first two years after the bull is released. For high demand bulls, the time limit needs to be extended because not all herds will be able to buy all the semen they want to use in that first year after a bull is proven. However, the idea is worth pursuing. To make optimum genetic progress, the decision to use a bull needs to be made as soon as first crop daughter performance is "conclusive". Once that decision is made, order the semen! There is no benefit to ordering some now and some later. Place the order and get in line for delivery, if you have to. Once the semen is delivered, get it into fertile females in standing heat. It does the herd no good in the tank. When deciding which bull to use, also consider how many daughters the herd would like to have. Buy enough semen to produce those daughters at the outset and get the semen into cows and heifers immediately. When the semen is gone, move on to the next bull and never look back.

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