Read U.S. Semen Straws

The small summary code printed on every straw is the key to the quality controls for U.S.-produced semen.

Photo Courtesy of GENEX

The U.S. system and straw codes system enable traceability – including who produced the semen, when and where, and fertility and viability checks. These unique codes provide a reference to original production specifics, in the case of quality checks at later dates.    

If the semen is CSS certified, the straw will contain the following information (not necessarily in this order):

  1. Collection Code: Date of semen collection (Julian or calendar date)
  2. Bull Name: Full registration name or short name 
  3. Bull Registration Number
    • Breed of bull
    • Country of origin
    • Unique herd book number
  4. Stud Code: Location of semen collection
  5. Bull’s NAAB Uniform Code
    • 3-number Marketing Code identifies semen marketer and type of semen (can be the same as the stud code)
    • 2-letter Breed Code
    • 5-number Bull Specific Number

U.S. Semen Straw Examples

This conventional semen was produced on the 210th day in 2012 (a) from the American Holstein (c and e) named GENOMIC-GENE BUSTER (b) with herd book number 75629829 (c) at the collection center of GENEX in Shawano, Wisconsin (d, stud code 021) and marketed by GENEX (e, marketing code 001).

This conventional semen was produced on February 24, 2017 (a) from the American Holstein bull (c and e) named  AltaJONAH (b) with herd book number 73752888 (c) at the collection center of ALTA Genetics in Watertown, Wisconsin (d, stud code 011) and marketed by Alta Genetics (e, marketing code 011).

Certified Semen Service

The CSS logo is not mandatory on semen straws. If a purchased semen straw does not contain the CSS logo, it is best to ask the semen sales rep if the semen is certified by CSS. 

The other information on the semen straw is mandatory under CSS regulations.

Photo Courtesy of CRV

Semen Codes Support Quality Genetic Evaluations

In addition to product traceability, the codes on U.S. semen straws help ensure accuracy of genetic evaluations. The NAAB Uniform Code on the straw represents the specific service sire and the type of semen used (conventional or sex-sorted).  

Marketing Codes for sex-sorted semen are different from the codes for conventional semen. While it is the same bull with the same genetics, the Marketing Code is different to distinguish the semen type. 

These codes determine how insemination data integrates into the genetic evaluation system. After the breeding is entered into on-farm herd management systems, this data is sent to the Council of Dairy Cattle Breeding (CDCB) by Dairy Record Processing Centers (DRPC) through the Dairy Herd Improvement (DHI) system. CDCB then calculates genetic evaluations – called Predicted Transmitting Abilities (PTAs) – for conception and fertility traits. These evaluations help dairy farmers striving for continuous improvement in herd health and reproduction.