A NEW sexed semen service for UK sheep producers has been launched by specialist artificial breeding technology company, AB Europe in association with Cogent UK.

Scheduled to help farmers increase the rate of genetic gain, increase the percentage of females or males born and subsequently improve flock efficiency and profitability, the offer is initially being made using fresh semen with the choice of 2M, a low dose of two million sperm cells per ml for commercial AI, and 4M, twice the concentration for AI for ET and AI with frozen semen. The semen can be processed either way - an X sort for female and a Y sort for males.“The technology is set to mirror the results achieved by bovine genetics and artificial breeding companies which now offer 90 percent gender accuracy and equivalent AI conception rates, explains AB Europe’s vet James Mylne.Last year, in conjunction with Cogent UK, we carried out large scale sexed semen trials in separate flocks featuring a total of 400 commercial horned ewes inseminated with low density, 2M fresh semen to achieve 77 percent conception rate, 199 percent scan and 97 percent female lambs born which were destined for replacement purposes, whilst largely removing the lower value male lambs. The trial conception rate compares with an average 85 percent achieved by our normal laprascopic AI service in commercial hill sheep.

“This season we are planning to introduce the high density 4M semen either within pedigree flocks using ET as part of their regular breeding programmes or to enable the use of frozen 4M semen in normal AIs. This could substantially enhance the flock’s production of either female lines or increase the number of rams available for sale.Whilst sexing sheep semen was initially carried out 30 years ago, limited commercial trials have since been carried out and commercialisation has been slow, unlike sexed semen in cattle which now accounts for one in three bovine inseminations in UK herds. However, we are commercially offering fresh sexed semen confident that it can produce similar conception rates of conventional semen."