December 10, 2008
Denmark reduces newborn slaughter with gender selection
In Denmark, the use of gender-selected semen from beef bulls to inseminate organic dairy cattle ensures that it is economically viable to produce high-quality organic beef and reduce the problem of having to slaughter newborn Jersey bull calves.
Many bull calves
are put down immediately after birth which is an ethical problem in any form of production.
The organic organisations in Denmark are investigating different options in order to prevent the slaughter of the newborn calves.
One of the options is to use gender-selected semen, where farmers can select the sex of the calves.
By inseminating the best breeding heifers in the herd with gender-selected semen to produce exclusive heifer calves, only the best stock will be part of the breeding programme which allows the farmer to achieve the best breeding progress for his herd.
This technology is not allowed in organic farming, but there is sufficient interest in the technology that approval for its use in organic farming may be sought.
The other option is to inseminate lower yielding cows using semen from beef
bulls, which means they produce fast-growing calves of good quality meat. It is more profitable this way, avoiding the problem of having to slaughter newborn calves.
Two scientists, Jehan Ettema and Jan Tind SÃ¸rensen from the Department of Animal Health, Welfare and Nutrition have developed scenarios with different conditions for the use of the technology and describe its consequences for production and farm economy.
Calculations conclusively show that under current conditions, the use of gender-selected semen from beef bulls in dairy farming would give better meat quality, economy and would reduce the slaughter of newborn calves.