The objective of this retrospective study was to compare survival during the first year of life and adult performance of offspring derived from artificial insemination (AI) with X-sorted or conventional sperm processed from the same ejaculates. We analyzed a data set that included AI of dairy heifers and lactating cows with fresh conventional sperm (3 × 106 sperm per straw), fresh X-sorted sperm (1 or 2 × 106 sperm per straw), or frozen X-sorted sperm (2 × 106 sperm per straw). The data set contained records of 5,179 offspring born on 396 farms. Offspring were classified as born from conventional sperm (CONV) if they were the product of an insemination with fresh conventional sperm, or born from X-sorted sperm (SS) if they were product of any of the 3 X-sorted sperm treatments. Generalized linear mixed models were used to evaluate the effect of sperm treatment on (1) survival during the first year of life; (2) reproductive performance, lactation performance, and survival of female offspring; and (3) slaughter characteristics of male offspring. Stillbirth rates and mortality rates during the first 2 mo of life were greater for male calves (2.8 and 5.0%, respectively) than for female calves (1.6 and 2.0%, respectively). No differences between offspring derived from SS and CONV were detected for incidences of stillbirth or mortality during the first 12 mo of life within sex of calf. Reproductive performance, milk volume, milk fat, milk protein yields during first; second; and third lactations, and survival to third lactation did not differ between female offspring derived from CONV and SS. Across all age groups, CONV steers had heavier carcasses than SS steers (325.3 vs. 318.3 kg), but there were no differences in weight between CONV and SS steers within any of the age groups (≤24, 25-27, 28-30, and >30 mo of age). The distribution of slaughter age did not differ between CONV and SS steers when the analysis was restricted to herds that reared steers derived from both types of sperm. Carcass conformation and fat scores of steers were not affected by sperm treatment. There was no difference in carcass weight between young bulls (≤2 yr) derived from CONV or SS. In conclusion, the results provide no evidence of differences in survival during the first year of life between offspring derived from CONV or SS, or for any of the reproductive and lactation performance characteristics studied between female offspring derived from CONV or SS. Modest differences in carcass weight between CONV and SS steers were detected, but this may reflect differences in management and husbandry in the rearing herds rather than the sex-sorting process. A controlled study using steers derived from conventional or X-sorted sperm from split ejaculates and reared under the same husbandry conditions is needed to clarify whether there is a true difference in body weight gain due to the sex-sorting process.
Keywords: dairy cattle offspring phenotype sexed semen