Sexual Revolution In The Dairy Industry

NEW ZEALAND - In all the hoop-la over Fonterra's plan to bring in outside investment an announcement that could have as big an impact, if not more so, on the future of dairying has been barely noticed.
calendar icon 22 November 2007
clock icon 1 minute read

It is a statement from farmer-owned dairy genetics company LIC that it will try the new technique of sexing semen. This allows farmers to choose to produce either female or male calves. Obviously, in an industry that runs on milk, more females are desired.

The process that LIC - formerly known as Livestock Improvement Corporation - wants to try is called flow cytometry. It uses lasers to determine the mass of dna in each cell and then uses electro-magnetic charges to physically separate the X and Y sperm.

LIC genetics manager Peter Gatley has no doubt that the technology works.

"The sex-selection efficiency is well-established, but we need to measure the conception rate in New Zealand cattle," he says.

The biggest drawback identified in overseas trials so far is that a straw of sexed semen has fewer useful cells, which halves the conception rate.

Source: Stuff
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