How does a Chinese AI Center work ?
Arnaud BARANGER and Martine BROUWER had the opportunity to visit the Shanghai Dairy
Breeding Center. In China, milk production is developing at a high pace. In 10 years,
the national production has quadrupled. The demand for milk is increasing all the
time. So the need for milking cows, good milking cows is considerable. The artificial
insemination centers are modernizing their infrastructures at high speed. Let's
them relate their visit.
are impressed by the Shanghai Dairy Breeding Center, situated in the outskirts of
Shanghai. The futuristic building contains numerous offices, fully equipped collection
facilities and a modern laboratory. At the back of the building we find the barns
for the bulls, also equipped with the latest technology. In total there are 180
bulls in production, of which 30 have been proven while the others are still being
these buildings, only 7 years old, will be destroyed next year, as a result of urban
pressure, and rebuilt at about 50 km from there!
In 2009, the Shanghai Dairy Breeding Center has sold 2.5 million doses of semen.
It is important to know that the government subsidizes the use of proven sires for
an amount of 1 Euro. If we tell you that the average price of one dosis amounts
to 1.60 Euro, this subsidy is not insignificant. The best bulls cost 8 Euros.
satisfy the demand, China needs cows. Originally they were from the “yellow” breeds,
the buffalo and the yak, which dominated the Chinese landscape. They produced just
enough for the needs of their owners. Later on the Holstein breed
has taken over, with production on large dairies.
In 2009 China has imported 50,000 milking cows, mainly from Australia. In the certified
AI centers one finds especially bulls from the Holstein breed. Most of these bulls, often
imported as embryos, originate from the United States and Canada. Almost all of
the Chinese dairy farms make use of artificial insemination.
From the start
Since 2003, the Shanghai Dairy Breeding Center has
worked in close cooperation with Genes Diffusion. The reason ? « Here in China people
are paying more and more attention to the composition of the milk. France has a
great reputation with respect to the quality of its cheese » explains Junmin
Zhang, general manager of the Shanghai Dairy Breeding Center. Junmin does not only
want to import semen. « The first French embryos have now been implanted in Chinese
recipients » he says proudly. He wants to test
the bulls that are born from these embryos.
« Besides the American and Canadian genetics, there is also a demand and a place
for the genetics from Genes Diffusion ». In the south of the country in
particular, there is a market for the better kind of bulls and breeders are prepared
to pay a higher price for good quality sires.
« France is ahead as far as genomics are concerned » says Junmin. Samples
from around 20 Chinese bulls have been sent to France to be analyzed. « As progeny
testing is done rather randomly in China at present, the alternative offered by
genomics represents a veritable trump card for us today ».
The Shanghai Dairy Breeding Center is a subsidiary
of Shanghai Bright, an enterprise listed on the stock exchange, of which 70% of
the shares are held by the government. It is also the third-largest dairy business
in China. From this point of view, it is in the interest of Shanghai Bright that
an efficient performance control system is set up. However, that is an arduous task,
as today only 3% of the milking cows are enrolled in a milk control system. This
lack of information about the descendants complicates the work of the manager. «
I am always afraid that I am killing a good bull » he confides to us. « There
is lack of information about quantities and about quality ». Quantity-wise,
due to the small numbers of animals that are milk-control registered, and quality-wise,
because the weighing is done by the breeder himself, which jeopardizes the reliability
of the results. Presently, the setting up of an effective milk control system is
on the priority list of the Chinese government.
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