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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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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.

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Ask 10 dairy producers their definition of a profitable cow and they’ll likely give you 10 different answers. From a reproductive standpoint, profitable cows are cows that calve in healthy, get bred back in 80 to 120 days in one or two services and stay healthy throughout lactation so they can dry off and repeat the process.

Getting cows bred back quickly after calving has a dramatic impact on profitability. More pregnant cows means you have a greater choice over which cows to cull, eliminating cows before they become problems and resulting in a healthier, more productive herd. More pregnancies will result in more calves, which means more heifer calves to keep as replacements, with extras to sell as breeding stock.

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When Jersey breeder Jim Huffard mated one of his top cow family’s daughters (Schultz Sooner Harmony) to Molly BROOK Brass Major, he thought he’d get an animal with excellent type and milk production. Yet the offspring from the mating, Schultz Brook HALLMARK, exceeded even his own expectations.

“The bulls that are at the top of the list are even better than you might have expected with a mating,” says Huffard. “They have everything in the right place when you make a mating. That is why they’re up there.”

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