The business of providing sex-selected semen to dairy farmers is fraught with court cases and patent fights.
In the commercial cattle business, girls rule. Cows give milk and meat. Bulls do not.
By: Shelly Brisbin
Source: Texas Standard
This helps explain why cattle companies are clamoring to get their hands on a relatively new product: semen that’s guaranteed to produce only female cattle. And the market is dominated by a Texas company with a lot of other players nipping at their heels.
Lydia Mulvany, food and agriculture reporter for Bloomberg says artificial insemination has been in use in dairy farming since the World War II era. Sex selection options have been available since the mid-2000s, she says. The delivery system is called a semen straw.
Mulvany says sex-selected straws cost twice as much as those for which the sex of the offspring is not guaranteed. A standard semen straw costs between $15 to $20.
“It’s very useful to [farmers] to be able to take their best milking cow and breed it, and make sure they get another milking cow,” Mulvany says. “Usually a female baby will fetch 3-4 times the amount of a bull.”
Inguran of Navasota, Texas, currently dominates the sex-selected semen market, Mulvany says. The company holds patents for the technology – and has clashed with other companies that produce competing products. Mulvany says a competitor recently won a court decision, declaring an Inguran patent invalid.