Calves born through the use of artificial insemination from a cattle farm in Clarendon.
Calves born through the use of artificial insemination from a cattle farm in Clarendon.

Nutramix signs major cattle semen distribution deal with US firm.

Nutramix has inked a deal with American firm Select Sires under which the Jamaican company will distribute highly fertile, superior genetics for cattle across the island and the throughout the Caribbean.

Yesterday, Nutramix pointed out that while it started distribution of genetic semen from Select Sires on a small scale locally in June 2016, the deal that was recently signed comes into effect this month, offering a wide range of breeds and sires to customers.

“Select Sires is recognised worldwide as one of, if not the leading supplier of top quality genetics for cattle,” Dr Gabrielle Young, livestock and support manager at Nutramix, said. “Partnering with a company with this reputation signifies the high quality and standards that Nutramix already exemplifies. Through the distribution network that Nutramix already controls within the Caribbean with feed, we can add superior quality genetics for cattle that is badly lacking in the Caribbean.”

Dr Young explained that the popular breeds for dairy and beef are Jersey, Holstein, and Brown Swiss for dairy, and Black and Red Angus, Brahman, and Simental for beef.

If farmers wish to cross breed cattle, there is semen available of other breeds as well, she noted.

Yesterday, Nutramix pointed out in a news release that farmers of any size can benefit from the use of the improved genetics; however, they must have access to an inseminator.

Dr Gabrielle Young speaking at a Nutramix training seminar for farmers. (Photo: Nicholas Bennett)
Dr Gabrielle Young speaking at a Nutramix training seminar for farmers. (Photo: Nicholas Bennett)

Dr Young explained that farmers have the option of doing pure breeding or cross-breeding. Pure breeding, she explained, is taking the semen of a bull of the same breed as the cow and producing offspring of the same breed.

“For example, a Jersey cow is bred using Jersey bull semen to produce a pure-bred Jersey offspring. Cross-breeding is taking semen of a different breed to the cow to produce a crossed bred offspring. A Red poll cow is inseminated with Brahman semen to produce a crossed Red poll /Brahman offspring. Crossed breed animals often benefit from hybrid vigour, which means the best traits of both parents are combined in the offspring to produce a superior animal,” Dr Young said.

“Sexed semen,” she continued, “is semen that has been sorted and gives [a] minimum 90 per cent assurance for a specific sex of offspring. In the dairy industry farmers would prefer female calves as replacement heifers. Sexed semen allows farmers to quickly multiply the best genetics within their herd.”

She explained that a straw of sexed semen can cost three times the price of regular non-sexed semen. However, she advised that price should not be the only consideration as the technology will allow for the rapid expansion of the dairy industry in Jamaica, which is urgently needed.

“Good-quality heifers are needed immediately to contribute to the increased demand for local fresh milk. Sexed semen insures that farmers do not have to wait nine months to determine if they will get a heifer or bull calf. They know that at the end of the nine months they will get a heifer calf of good quality,” Dr Young said.

Clarendon Dairy Farmer Derrick Walker is pictured on his dairy farm.
Clarendon Dairy Farmer Derrick Walker is pictured on his dairy farm.

Nutramix outlined that regular semen straws cost from $800 to $2,000 per straw, while sexed semen can range from $6,000 to $8,000 per straw with a guarantee of minimum 90 per cent of the desired sex chosen.

“Cost per straw is highly dependent on the desired traits of the bulls. Select Sires retain bulls with improved production traits, including increased milk production, calving ease and increased average daily gains. The better the bull, the higher the price of the semen,” Nutramix stated, adding that the semen is being distributed from its main office at Newport East in Kingston.

“Cattle semen is particular and needs to be stored under certain conditions (liquid nitrogen),” Dr Young explained. “We have four inseminators that travel islandwide, but would need many more inseminators to effectively cover the island. Early next year we are hosting a workshop in conjunction with Select Sires to train an additional 15 persons in the insemination of cattle. We believe that all cattle farmers should be trained or have someone on their farm trained in this technology for them to see the true benefit of improved genetics.”

The company said that the feedback it has received from farmers using the semen has been extremely positive.

It also said that as part of its dedication to the Drink Real Milk project implemented in early 2016, there has been a noticeable increase in milk production in the local economy.

“Considering the availability of the Nutramix-distributed Kalvolac milk replacer and Nutravit vitamin pack, as well as farmers utilising artificial insemination, it is hoped that more farmers will join the mission to continue the revitalisation of our local dairy industry,” the company stated.

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