A British dairy sire has entered the international record books by producing more sexed semen than any other bull in the world.
The bull – Crichel Principal – has notched up an incredible 116,000 straws of sexed semen in his lifetime to date, which his owners, Cogent, say puts him far ahead of his nearest rival. He combines this milestone with a celebration of his 13th birthday this month.
Principal’s accomplishment has been achieved through a combination of his own exceptional fertility (at his prime he was producing semen seven days a week); the widespread demand for his daughters both in the UK and world-wide; and the foresight of Cogent, who were the first breeding company in the world to offer sexed semen commercially to the cattle farming industry.
Cogent brought the US-developed technology to their premises in Cheshire in 1998; have undertaken research and development into sexing techniques since that time; and made the product commercially available in 2000. Today, around 30% of all the semen they sell is sexed, with each successful conception giving their customers a 90% chance of producing a female calf. As such, they have retained their position as a world leader, offering semen sexing services to other breeding companies as well as directly to their own customers.
“This technology is exceptionally important to the farming industry, because of the enormous demand for heifers to enter the dairy herd, stemming in turn from the growing international demand for dairy produce; and the negligible value of dairy bull calves,” remarks Hugh Pocock, sales and genetics manager with Cogent. “There are welfare issues associated with producing unwanted bull calves, and animal welfare organisations such as the RSPCA are firmly in favour of this technology.”
Crichel Principal himself was one of the first bulls to produce daughters resulting from the sexing process and now has an estimated 50,000 on the ground world-wide. “Farmers who have used him find his daughters to be extremely efficient milk-producing cows,” says Mr Pocock. “They also have great legs, feet and locomotion and particularly good health and fitness.
“He also has some exceptional sons, including Dalbytop Phil, currently one of our best-selling bulls.”
Principal himself was bred in Dorset by dairy farmer, Tim Harding. For conformation the bull is classified EX95 – one of the highest scores available – and he has a Profitable Lifetime Index of £147, reflecting his commercial relevance and balanced proof. This still ranks him in the top 100 PLI list of all available Holstein bulls, despite his advancing years. Conventional semen is still available although it is no longer put through the sexing process.
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