Sion A.I.

The Sion A.I. company was founded in 2001 by the merging of the On and Hasherut A.I. cooperatives. Sion currently keeps 240 bulls located in four different sites. Approximately 50 young bulls are tested every year. Semen of approximately 20 bulls is available to the Israeli dairy farmers for general service. Most are proven bulls with evaluations based on daughter production records, and the rest are high pedigree index young bulls. Genetic evaluations are calculated bi-annually. Bulls and cows are ranked by the Israeli selection index PD01.

Diagram of the The Israeli Breeding Program

Each year approximately 350,000 inseminations are performed in Israel, 92.5% with local semen of the Israeli-Holstein breed. Sion employs 36 insemination technicians. The 1,100 dairy farms are divided into 30 insemination districts, and the remaining six technicians work as substitutes. Currently 88% of dairy herds are included in the DHI system. Insemination Information is recorded by the technicians on hand-held computer terminals. This system allows for error-free transfer of data to the central ICBA computer, and prevents mating of closely related animals. The technician first enters the details of the proposed mating. The proposal is rejected if inbreeding coefficient of the proposed mating is greater than 3.125%.

The bulls are housed at four different sites. Young bulls are located in two locations in the north of Israel, and active bulls are kept at the central AI center south of Tel Aviv. Insemination of elite dams is programmed by the "Meytal" mating program, which tracks expected matings and calving dates. The elite dams, which are owned by the dairy farmers and kept at the farms, are inseminated by "Sion" with some of the highest ranked bulls in the world based on Interbull evaluations and with the best local bulls. Male calves born from those inseminations are bought by "Sion" at the age of one week.
Semen collection starts when bulls are 14 months old. When the bulls are 16 months old, their semen is used to inseminate approximately 1000 first-parity cows in DHI herds. This process is generally completed within three months. Semen from the young bulls is collected bi-weekly during a period of two years, and stored in the semen bank. This system assures a large semen bank for each bull that can be used immediately after the bulls is approved for general use at the age of five years, even if the bull is unable to produce semen at a later age. Genetic evaluations are computed bi-annually, and the status of the bulls are reevaluated after each new genetic evaluation. The Israeli breeding program encourages the extensive use of young bulls with outstanding genetic value based on pedigree. These bulls are used for general service and perform 3-5 times more inseminations than the regular young bulls. Extensive use of these bulls increases the mean breeding value of the national population. In addition, the evaluations of these bulls at the age of five years will have higher reliability due to the greater number of daughter records.

The Israeli dairy cattle population has the highest mean milk and milk solid production in the world, even though dairy production conditions are suboptimal due to heat stress in most areas during most of the year. Israeli bulls transmit outstanding genetic ability for milk yield and components and excel in fertility and udder health traits. This impressive achievement is the outcome of the long-term cooperation among farmers, Sion A.I. company, the Israeli Cattle Breeders Association, the Agricultural Research Organization, and the Ministry of Agriculture extension service (Sha’ham).

All rights reserved to ICBA   |   Powered by AKOL Anat Keshev Ltd.