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Profitability of a dairy sheep genetic improvement program using artificial insemination

  • G. E. Valergakis (a1), A. I. Gelasakis (a1), G. Oikonomou (a1), G. Arsenos (a1), P. Fortomaris (a1) and G. Banos (a1)...

This simulation study investigated the farm-level economic benefits of a genetic improvement scheme using artificial insemination (AI) with fresh ram semen in dairy sheep of the Chios breed in Greece. Data were collected from 67 farms associated with the Chios Sheep Breeders’ Cooperative ‘Macedonia’, describing the percentage of ewes that would be artificially inseminated in the flock, pregnancy rate, annual ram costs that could be saved using AI rather than natural mating, expected improvement in milk production, annual costs of semen and feed, milk price and number of years of AI usage. The study considered 77 760 possible scenarios in a 3 × 4 × 4 × 3 × 3 × 3 × 4 × 15 factorial arrangement. Analysis of variance was used to investigate the effect of each factor on farm profitability. All factors considered were statistically significant (P < 0.001), but their effect varied. The number of years using AI had the greatest effect on profitability and farmers should become aware that using AI is a long-term investment. Semen price, pregnancy rate and improvement in milk production also had substantial effects. The price of milk and feed had a considerably lower effect on profitability, as did the annual cost of maintaining rams that would be replaced by AI. A positive annual and cumulative return was achieved in the model within the first 6 years. The cost of semen was estimated at 8€ to 10€ per dose for the first 5 years. Where the annual improvement in milk production was 1% of annual phenotypic mean (e.g. 3.0 kg) profitability of the scheme was improved greatly.

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