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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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Crossbreeding can improve the profit for most dairy producers, if economically similar breeds are used. However, it is important to stress that crossbreeding cannot replace pure breeding. Pure breeding is a prerequisite for crossbreeding. The heterosis obtained from crossbreeding is an added bonus on top of the genetic gain created by pure breeding. The size of the bonus depends on the number and types of breeds involved in the breeding program. Most studies report at least a 10 percent increase in total economic gain per cow among F1 crosses between “unrelated” breeds.

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Editor’s note: The following benchmarks have been compiled using data reported by dairies enrolled in Alta Genetic’s AltaAdvantage program, a progeny testing program. More than 182,500 cows in 175 herds participate in the program nationwide.

Brutal fact: Heritability is often misunderstood. Among even some of the A.I. industry’s own people, heritability has been described as the probability that the resulting progeny will inherit a trait. Dairy producers not surprisingly push back on “low heritability traits,” saying things like, “We will make less progress,” or “We won’t make a noticeable difference,” or “It takes so many generations to actually change those traits.” It is worth the time to clear up the confusion.

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Accelerated Genetics has strength in all dairy breeds
The August 2007 dairy sire summary brings about the last of the four-times-a-year proof releases. The next evaluation release date is in January 2008 and then there will be just three releases per year. The August evaluations show Accelerated Genetics is strong in all breeds and in many areas within each breed – whether you are looking for high NM$, PL, PTAT, UDC or Total Performance sires.

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Introduction
It may be easy to quickly say “Yes, I’m satisfied,” or “No, I’m not satisfied with the fertility of my Holstein heifers.” Nevertheless, to reasonably answer the question posed in the title of this article, we must first consider another question: What is the fertility level of Holstein heifers in the United States? Traditionally, reproductive research has focused on cow fertility. Consequently, it has been difficult to describe heifer fertility on a large scale, until now. An analysis of heifer fertility data by the Animal Improvement Programs Laboratory of the USDA was recently published in the Journal of Dairy Science. The paper may be accessed for free at http://aipl.arsusda.gov/publish/jds/2006/89_4907.pdf.

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After breeding heifers one by one through a working chute in Iowa’s frequent windstorms for several months, David Porterfield often thought there had to be a better, more efficient way to manage Koenen Dairy’s breeding-age heifers.

Porterfield, then an A.I. technician for Semex, knew his stops to breed heifers at the dairy in Hawarden, Iowa, were taking up too much time – both his own and the dairy producer’s.

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Editor’s note: The following benchmarks have been compiled using data reported by dairies enrolled in Alta Genetic’s AltaAdvantage program, a progeny testing program. More than 182,500 cows in 175 herds participate in the program nationwide.

Read more ...