Business

Dairy producers in Peru use high-tech breeding techniques to improve their herds' genetics

By Rachel Chase

Farmers are using improved methods of breeding and sex-selection to gain a genetic advantage for their cattle.

Dairy producers in Peru use high-tech breeding techniques to improve their herds' genetics

Calves aren't always cooperative models. (Photo: Andina/Pedro Tinoco)

El Paraiso Dairy in the Junín city of Huancayo is now the proud home of two sets of the cutest bovine twins you’ll ever see. Thanks to high-tech breeding methods, El Paraiso was able to breed Sheyla and Carla, two of their Brown Swiss cows, to produce twins. The fruits of their labor (quite literally in the cows’ case) are four knobby-kneed Brown Swiss calves.

But other than being exceptionally cute, what’s so special about a bunch of baby bovines? Well, these critters weren’t conceived through conventional means. In fact, their biological father has never laid eyes on Sheyla or Carla. His name is Victory, and he’s a famous Brown Swiss bull who lives in Canada. But don’t worry, I’ll spare you the details of how Victory’s, uh, genetic material ended up in Peru.

It may seem odd, but the artificial insemination of cows with semen taken from a high-value bull is a common practice used by farmers all over the world to improve the genetic stock of their herds.

One of the interesting advantages that bovine artificial insemination can have is the use of what is called “sexed” semen. This means that the semen has been separated and selected to produce calves of a certain sex. According to Andina news agency, one of the pairs of twins, two heifer (female) calves born to mother Sheyla, were conceived using sexed semen. The other pair, bull calf twins born to Carla, were produced with non-sexed semen.

“We’re open to receiving students of the agricultural sciences and small producers from around the valley, or around the country, so we can share our experiences and help to continue to improve the cattle business, because it’s one of the most profitable [sectors] in agriculture,” said Freddy Lapel Garagati, the owner of El Paraiso.

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