Demand for sexed cattle semen has seen sales pass 200,000 units for the first time.
Sexed semen sales increased 12.8 per cent year-on-year in 2019, and now represented more than 10% of semen sold domestically according to the National Herd Improvement Association of Australia's 2019 Semen Market Survey.
Survey results showed that while total sales declined 10.9pc from the record 2,196,456 doses sold in 2018 to 1,957,221, export sales increased by 7.8pc from 263,940 to 284,658 units.
The annual Semen Market Survey was based on data supplied by NHIA members.
NHIA chief executive, Stephen Carroll, said external factors were responsible for the overall sales decline.
The decline in dairy semen sales was consistent with he deline in the national dairy herd, he said.
"The downturn in the market, the drought and the knock on effect on water and fodder costs has had a significant impact on the number of dairy cows being joined," he said.
"Factor these higher input costs alongside the declining national dairy herd and I don't think the headline figures are a surprise.
An increase in sales of beef semen by 12.1pc to 280,539 units mirrored the 12.8pc increase in sexed semen sales to 201,356 doses.
"If you look at sexed semen and beef semen sales together, I think it highlights that Australian breeders are working smarter. The growth in both markets is something I expect to see continue," Mr Carroll said..
"The reliability of sexed semen is now at a very high level and we are seeing breeders across the board focus on the top end of their herds with these products. With the current strong export market many breeders are also using sexed semen around the mid-point of their herds as well. And don't forget that animal welfare, particularly in relation to bobby calves, is also a driver.
"With what I would call more targeted breeding, the increase in beef semen sales is to be expected.
Sexed semen top end, beef semen bottom end is a breeding strategy that works for many people. At the other end of the supply chain there is an increasing demand for dairy-beef cross animals and meat which is reflected in these figures."
Export sales have now increased year-on-year from a low of 127,998 doses in 2016 to 284,658 in the period covered by the latest NHIA survey.
"Developing an export market in any field takes a lot of time and effort. Since 2015-2016 there has been a 122.3% increase export sales of Australian semen. We are certainly becoming a more significant player in the international market, with the long-term investment approach of our export focused members starting to pay dividends. Overseas buyers are starting to take note of Australian breeding values," Mr Carroll said.
Genetics Australia export manager Robert Derkson said there had been good growth in exports that coincided with extra investment in that area.
Mr Derksen said exports was getting more important for GA and since 2015/16 semen exports had increased year-on-year.
The majority of exports to China were dairy semen but there were some exports of beef semen with further sales to New Zealand, South Africa and parts of latin America.
He said there was a cautionary aspect with the possible impact of the coronavirus and trade with China.
He said the outbreak had implications for the regular audit and re-accreditation of Australian facilities by China authorities due in April this year.
Mr Derkson said the industry had made requests to have the current accreditation extended until the outbreak was over.
The NHIA survey also showed the high demand for A2 products by dairy consumers and premium paid for A2 progeny which saw A2 sires represent 4pc of the total semen sold.
Polled semen sires represent 5.4pc of total semen sales with this slow increase reflective of the number of high genetic merit polled bulls available currently.
DataGene extension officer Peter Williams said the use of sexed semen had increased as reliability and consistency of results had risen.
He said the trend towards using sexed semen on heifers and early-calving cows was a "powerful interaction" for dairy farmers.
He said it was about targeting more fertile females with sexed semen that would generate replacement heifers for the herd more quickly from more fertile cows.
The tight calving pattern of the heifer progeny meat these heifers were older, gained more weight and were more fertile when it came to joining, he said.
He said the later-calving cows in the herd were being joined to beef semen to provide another marketing option.