This spring I wrote about a not-so-new technology we were going to try for the first time: sexed semen. We bought 10 units of sexed Chase from ABS. We knew the conception rate was reduced by the process they use to alter the semen, but we were still a little disappointed with our results. To date, we have used 6 of the 10 straws and only achieved one pregnancy. With conventional semen we average about 60% conception, so this is big drop.
The semen wasn’t the only problem, though. Every once in a while we will have a few weeks or a month where conception rates are low. Unfortunately we used several straws of Chase during one of these times. We never determined if it was something in our ration, the stage of the moon or the weather, but for about a month in late winter/early spring we didn’t get much bred.
We did, however, get one pregnancy. In fact, it was one of only two pregnancies achieved during that month. Even better, the pregnant heifer was Snowball: one of our favorites, sired by Aftershock. Snowball’s due date was December 21st. Thankfully the world didn’t end, but on December 22nd as we packed our bags to visit my family in Illinois before Christmas, Snowball stood around chewing her cud and showing no interest in calving.
The next morning while we enjoyed our coffee in Illinois, David and I were mentioned in a tweet (from one of our employees) that contained a picture of a pretty little heifer calf. Sexed semen offers a 90% chance at a heifer, so with only one pregnancy, a bull would have been pretty poor luck. This year, though, it seems like we’ve had plenty of that! We were relieved to come home to a nice fresh cow and baby heifer calf, who is the spitting image of her mama. This little gal is special, so she probably needs a name. Suggestions are welcome in the comments!
While we were very frustrated with our initial conception results, we still have two straws to use and plan on purchasing some more sexed semen from a different bull or two. Ten units of one bull doesn’t seem like a fair test of a technology that many farmers have been using for years. In the meantime, we’re glad our first try resulted in at least one success story.