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A.I. & Breeding

From estrus and heat detection to genomics and sexed semen, discover the latest information to improve reproductive performance.

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The Prins Dairy, owned by John and Kevin Prins, is located near Oakdale, California. Our dairy has been in operation since 1971. Today, we milk 570 cows, and cows are grazed in the summer and freestall-housed in the winter. All cows are fed a total mixed ration (TMR) once per day.

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Dairy producers and dairy cattle breeding companies should breed for more profitable dairy cattle. Producers are limited in their breeding decisions by the genes or families in the populations available, and this is primarily under the control of breeding companies. Past selection for increased production and for improvement in several other traits (such as udder conformation) has been very successful.

However, the genetic antagonism between production traits and health and between production traits and reproduction have resulted in increased disease rates and reduced reproductive performance in U.S. dairy cattle. Some recent additions to our genetic evaluations (genetic evaluations in the U.S. are called predicted transmitting abilities or PTAs) will help breed more profitable, problem-free dairy cattle and will reduce or eliminate the downward trend in reproductive performance.

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Starting with this column and continuing each month, this space will include benchmarking data on a number of key performance indicators (KPI) for U.S. dairy producers.

The data has been compiled from 175 herds and about 182,500 cows located across the United States that are participating in Alta’s AltaAdvantage® program. These herds average approximately 850 cows, with a minimum of about 200 cows, and a maximum of 4,000 cows. All herds are managed under commercial conditions, where income is mainly generated from the production of milk.

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The gap between the Holstein breed’s number one net merit bull and other sires remains wide. As of February’s net merit sire evaluations, more than 90 points separated O-Bee Manfred Justice’s daughters from the offspring of other bulls in the breed. Since 2003, the bull has remained the highest net merit bull. He is also currently the second-highest TPI bull in the breed.

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The daily challenge of getting cows pregnant is nothing new to any dairy producer. What is new is the variety of approaches researchers are taking to understand the mechanisms underlying this problem and propose effective solutions to it. Our applied reproductive research program in the Department of Animal Science at Michigan State University is focused on controlling ovarian physiology to optimize fertility of lactating dairy cows. Our goal is to develop and utilize new information to improve the fertility potential of Ovsynch.

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Accelerated Genetics adds balance and power to Holstein lineup
Accelerated Genetics lineup continues to impress Holstein breeders worldwide and now has added new sires after the February 2007 dairy sire proofs. New PACE graduates 014HO03964 BOB, 014HO04244 GLASCOW, 014HO04229 WES, 014HO04250 BIZ, and 014HO4213 GEORGE along with Winner’s Circle graduate 202HO00231 VELVET add to the strength of the lineup.

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