• Fertility of fresh and frozen sex-sorted semen in dairy cows and heifers in seasonal-calving pasture-based herds

      Maicas, C.; Hutchinson, Ian A.; Kenneally, Jonathon; Grant, Jim; Cromie, A. R.; Lonergan, P.; Butler, Stephen T.; Teagasc Walsh Fellowship programme; Teagasc postdoctoral fellowship; Dovea Genetics; et al. (Elsevier, 2019-08-22)
      Our objective in this study was to evaluate the reproductive performance of dairy heifers and cows inseminated with fresh or frozen sex-sorted semen (SS) in seasonal-calving pasture-based dairy herds. Ejaculates of 10 Holstein-Friesian bulls were split and processed to provide (1) fresh conventional semen at 3 × 106 sperm per straw (CONV); (2) fresh SS at 1 × 106 sperm per straw (SS-1M); (3) fresh SS semen at 2 × 106 sperm per straw (SS-2M); and (4) frozen SS at 2 × 106 sperm per straw (SS-FRZ). Generalized linear mixed models were used to evaluate the effect of semen treatment and other explanatory variables on pregnancy per artificial insemination (P/AI) in heifers (n = 3,214) and lactating cows (n = 5,457). In heifers, P/AI was greater for inseminations with CONV (60.9%) than with SS-FRZ (52.8%) but did not differ from SS-1M (54.2%) or SS-2M (53.5%). Cows inseminated with CONV had greater P/AI (48.0%) than cows inseminated with SS, irrespective of treatment (SS-1M, SS-2M, and S-FROZEN; 37.6, 38.9, and 40.6%, respectively). None of the SS treatments differed from each other with regard to P/AI in either heifers or cows. The relative performance of SS compared with CONV was also examined [i.e., relative P/AI = (SS P/AI)/(CONV P/AI) × 100]. Frozen SS achieved relative P/AI >84%. Bull affected P/AI in both heifers and cows, but no bull by semen treatment interaction was observed. In heifers, P/AI increased with increasing Predicted Transmitting Ability for milk protein percentage. In cows, P/AI increased with increasing Economic Breeding Index (EBI) and with days in milk (DIM) at AI but decreased with increasing EBI milk subindex, parity and with DIM2. Cows in parity ≥5 had the lowest P/AI and differed from cows in parities 1, 2, or 3. Dispatch-to-AI interval of fresh semen did not affect P/AI in lactating cows, but a dispatch-to-AI interval by bull interaction was detected whereby P/AI was constant for most bulls but increased with greater dispatch-to-AI intervals for 2 bulls. In conclusion, frozen SS achieved greater P/AI relative to conventional semen than was previously reported in lactating cows. Fresh SS did not achieve greater P/AI than frozen SS, regardless of whether the sperm dose per straw was 1 × 106 or 2 × 106. A bull effect for all semen treatments, as well as a dispatch-to-AI interval by bull interaction for fresh semen, highlights the importance of using a large team of bulls for breeding management.