NEW total Livestock Genetics (TLG) sales manager Darren Fletcher, based in Leongatha, is predicting a big shift to sexed semen and more beef sires in dairy enterprises.
Mr Fletcher says that within the next few years, more than 50 per cent of semen sales are likely to be sexed.
“It could even go further than that if we follow the trends in Scandinavia, especially with the Jersey breed where 70 to 80 per cent of farmers are using sexed semen,” he said.
“It’s already a hot market and going to get hotter.”
Mr Fletcher said farmers were wanting to move away from bobby calves.
“The main driver behind sexed semen is that you can get out of the bobby calf market. You get heifers earlier and can then incorporate dairy beef to add more value to your business.”
While conventional semen will continue to play a role in Australian genetics, Mr Fletcher says more farmers are seeing the benefits of investing in sexed semen.
“The price difference will mean some farmers will always use conventional semen but sexed is definitely a good investment. You’re 90 per cent guaranteed a heifer calf.”
Mr Fletcher added that health traits are also a strong focus for farmers.
“For a long time, the focus was on production but the last five years the AI industry has been big on fertility, health traits and longevity.”
Mr Fletcher comes to the role with a strong background in dairy farming and breeding and genetics. The former dairy farm owner has most recently worked as breeding advisor account manager for Viking Genetics.
“I was a typical dairy farmer’s kid who left school and went out in the world to work for a few years,” he said.
It took a “city girl” to lure him back to dairy farming.“I met my wife Nicole who was a city girl but she wanted to try dairy farming,” he said.
“At the time we owned a motel in Yarram but she had a friend who was a dairy farmer and they taught her to milk.
“She said let’s sell the motel and go dairy farming and the rest is history.”
They started managing a farm and progressed to share farming before buying their own property at Bena.
As TLG sales manager based at Leongatha, Mr Fletcher will mostly be responsible for semen sales but also genomic testing and assisting clients with their embryo transfer requirements.
“I want to make sure we supply a good range of bulls to suit all types of dairy farming,” he said.
Mr Fletcher said breeding was his passion.
“Being a dairy farmer, you tend to have a part of the business that interests you; some are grass, some are machinery, some are breeding. I loved the breeding; watching the heifers come through from calves and seeing them raised and joined and then standing in the dairy in front of you.”
TLG was recently purchased by Genetics Australia but continues to operate as a stand-alone business.