Skip to main content

Cattle (Artificial Insemination)

Volume 979: debated on Thursday 28 February 1980

The text on this page has been created from Hansard archive content, it may contain typographical errors.

asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food whether he will now make a statement on the future of controls over the artificial insemination of cattle.

My right hon. Friends the Secretaries of State for Scotland and for Wales and I have reviewed the present arrangements and the proposals for changes that were announced in 1978 following the recommendations of the interdepartmental report on the review of standards for the selection of bulls used in AI. After wide consultation with the industry bodies concerned with the artificial insemination of cattle, we have concluded that the report's recommendations should be implemented in full except that, as a first step, there should be provision for only limited control over the advertising for sale of semen from dairy bulls. To this end we hope to lay new regulations before the House shortly, to revise the existing regulations and to come into force on 1 May next together with the other new arrangements that are set out below.

Whilst there is widespread acceptance by the industry that veterinary standards and controls in this field should continue, we have noted a continuing diversity of view on the effectiveness of the longstanding government control over the genetic selection of bulls used in AI. We have decided that in the shorter term this control should continue, but with some changes to provide on the one hand greater freedom of choice in the selection of dairy bulls for progeny testing and for extended use, and on the other adequate safeguards for the interests of purchasers of semen. The main relaxation recommended by the review report will affect the distribution outside owners' herds of semen from dairy bulls through new categories of bulls and associated semen imits set out in the table below. In addition, small panels drawn largely from members of the industry will be appointed to hear and advise on appeals where mature dairy bulls marginally fail to meet a qualifying standard for additional semen distribution but have other outstanding attributes. Furthermore the committee on the AI of cattle, under the chairmanship of Sir Richard Trehane, will be asked when it has reached conclusions on its present dairy breed remit to consider how participation by the industry in bull approvals can best be achieved for the longer term.

We propose to provide for purchasers of semen to be better safeguarded. The revised regulations will require the breed, name, approval category and the Great Britain herd book number of the donor dairy bull to be provided before, or at the time of, the sale of semen. They will further require specified production and conformation information to be provided for untested or unclassified donor dairy bulls and, against a request in writing, for other donor dairy bulls. The provisions will apply also to dairy bulls whose semen is imported where the information is available. These same conditions will also apply to the advertising of semen from dairy bulls and it is hoped that advertisers will voluntarily extend the provision of full information to all their semen sales' promotion. Other principal modifications will strengthen the present animal health safeguards in the quarantine arrangements for semen and provide for greater flexibility in the permitted movement of semen from AI centres to farms in special circumstances.

In response to requests from breeders and farmers for a relaxation where a bull is jointly owned, the unlimited use of its semen within an owner's herd will be extended to the first six joint owners. As a first step, the parentage of young dairy bulls under three years of age will require to be authenticated by blood typing before they can be approved for progeny testing outside the owner's herd. This requirement will be extended to




Qualifying conditions

Limit* (Straws)

Young bulls under 3 years of age eligible for progeny testing.Grade A Progeny Testing.See Note 1750
Grade B UntestedPedigree only500
Bulls 3 years of age or over not previously progeny tested.Grade B UntestedPedigree only500
Mature bulls eligible for extended AI use.UnclassifiedMinimum Improved Contemporary Comparison (ICC) weighting of 5 and no conformation of production standards.3,500†
Class 4ICC weighting of 10 but below 15 and meeting conformation and production standards specified in Note 2. Spread of daughters in less than 7 herds.7,500†
Class 3ICC weighting of 15 or more and meeting conformation and production standards specified in Note 2. Spread of daughters in less than 7 herds.15,000†
Class 2ICC weighting of 10 but below 15 and meeting conformation and production standards specified in Note 2. Spread of daughters in 7 or more herds.
Class 1ICC weighting of 15 or more and meeting conformation and production standards specified in Note 2. Spread of daughters in 7 or more herds.Unlimited
* Excludes use within the herd of the owner of the bull.
† These limits are inclusive.


1. Grade A Progeny Testing Bulls. For a young bull to be approved as a grade A progeny testing bull his sire must have met the standards of weighting and production in Note 2 for classified mature bulls and have daughters of good conformation in respect of the important commercial characteristics. His dam should have milk and fat production records above the average of her herd mates, with fat percentages acceptable for her breed, and have satisfactory conformation in respect of the important utility requirements. Her production pedigree should reflect a superior production ancestry. The bull himself must be of sound conformation, and in addition must be registered with a breed society.

2. Classified Bulls (Classes 1 to 4). For bulls to qualify for these categories they must have a minimum improved contemporary comparison weighting of ten, and the production standards shown in the table below must be met; the daughters' milk must be of an acceptable fat percentage for the breed. Daughters must also meet a satisfactory standard of conformation in respect of the important commercial requirements and classification reports will be taken into account.

mature dairy bulls as soon as practicable.

Owners of bulls eligible to take advantage of the relaxations in semen distribution or co-ownership may now apply to the appropriate agriculture Department for new approvals which will take effect on or after 1 May.

The arrangements for the approval of beef bulls remain unchanged and breed societies are asked to continue to encourage the wider use of AI in pedigree herds.


ICC Fat Kg


ICC Fat Kg


ICC Fat Kg


ICC Fat Kg


Continuing reduction in kilograms fat with increased weightings.