Insemination, an essential cog in genetic improvement
The ease of use of artificial insemination (AI), its reliability and access to high quality breeding animals make it possible for the farmer to diversify his male parent animals and adapt their characteristics (breed, nature and performance levels) to those of the females in his herd, and his production and selection objectives. This reproduction technique is an essential cog in the genetic improvement of animals
By its Creation
AI has made it possible to put in place a progeny testing tool for this type of selection. With insemination, for each candidate bull a progeny sample distributed in a sample of farms has been created. Through the performance of the progeny, it is therefore possible to evaluate the quality of the genes transmitted by the bull and thus decide to select it as a breeding animal before distributing its semen. It is known that differences in performance between animals depend both on their genetic potential and the farming environment (nutrition, diseases, farming techniques, etc.). Putting the semen into straws makes it possible to distribute the bull’s genes simultaneously to different farms and therefore create genetic connections between farms. The more the numerous these exchanges, the better the quality of the genetic comparison of the animals. So it is possible to minimise the effects of environment in this comparison. Although progeny testing tends to be disappearing with the advance of genomics, this progeny control tool today makes it possible to confirm the value of genotyped bulls given the performances of their progeny.
By its Distribution
Over and above the creation of this genetic potential, insemination also makes it possible to distribute the genetic gains observed very widely. Artificial insemination has induced profound changes in the practices and organisations of the dairy cattle sector, from the creation of margins linked to the disappearance of bulls on farms to the integration of the farmer into a network of professional relations. The aim is to organise communally the genetic improvement of production animals, and this has made it possible to guarantee the individual farmer the genetic and health quality of the breeding animals to which each farmer has free access. AI has transformed selection, which was mainly only feasible within the farm and in its geographical neighbourhoods, into an activity carried out on a breed scale and internationally.