Diversifying into a2 with sexed semen

Werner Marx

A West Otago dairy farmer has been using sexed semen to transition his herd into a2 milk producers so he can receive a premium.

Werner Marx milks 270 crossbred cows on 100 hectares alongside his daughter Amy and son-in-law Nathan producing an average 470kg/MS per cow. The family supplies Mataura Valley Milk, part of the a2 Milk Company, and has been working to transition their herd to fully a2 over the past five years.

“I could see where things were going with a2 and that it would offer a premium payment if we could transition our herd to a2 milkers,” says Werner. “We have been successfully breeding for a2 producing cows with CRV semen for the past five years.”

Last season he decided to try CRV’s sexed semen straws to see if he could boost his rate of a2 heifers. The results were so good he’s planning on using sexed semen across most of his herd this mating season.

“We used 50 straws right at the start of mating season last year so we could have a second chance if they didn’t get in calf, but 36 out of the 50 cows got in calf first time,” says Werner.

“We had about a 72 percent in-calf rate at three weeks using CRV’s sexed semen straws which I was more than happy with. Our three-week in calf rate for the rest of the herd was sitting at around 69 percent so CRV’s sexed semen was more proving more efficient than the standard semen.”

Werner puts it down to the high quality of CRV’s sexed semen product, their experienced CRV AB technician and good management of the herd leading into calving.

“I had heard all the concerns about in-calf rates being lower using sexed semen. You certainly still need to manage your herd properly heading into mating, but the results we achieved using CRV’s sexed semen would suggest there are no issues.”

Werner will use 200 sexed semen straws this coming mating as he accelerates the transition of his herd to 100 percent a2.

“We’re hoping to get 120 herd replacements from those 200 straws. This will give us a backstop in two years’ time where we can guarantee we will be 100 percent a2, and give us some extras as well,” says Werner.

He says alongside a2 they are trying to breed a crossbred cow weighing about 450kgs that milks well in their herd.

“The size of our cows and our production of around 470kgMS per cow demonstrates that CRV’s genetics are also providing us with some very efficient milkers,” says Werner.

He also likes that everyone he deals with from CRV has either been farming themselves or understands the industry intimately and can help him achieve his goals.

“CRV understands what we’re trying to achieve, and I know I can trust the advice they give me. Their sexed semen is helping us achieve our goals faster and receive a premium for our product.”