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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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Unlike the stock market where you can cash out on a bad investment, bad genetic decisions stick with your herd and stay for generations.

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“The three largest expenses of a dairy business are feed costs for the lactating herd, labor and raising replacement heifers,” Dr. Joseph Dalton of the University of Idaho stated as he opened his presentation at the Great Lakes Regional Dairy Conference recently in Frankenmuth, Michigan.

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A few years ago, I was invited to a team meeting at a dairy that was considering adopting genomic testing and selection as part of their management strategy.

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If I had written a book predicting the past two years in dairy farming, it would have been coined as fiction. In addition to a global pandemic, nobody could have predicted the wild swings in commodities coupled with the challenges in weather.

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As dairy farmers aim to accelerate the genetic progress of their herds, in vitro fertilization (IVF) leads the way in efficiency of quick genetic improvement, allowing producers to capitalize on their best genetics, and shorten generation intervals, while not disrupting the reproduction program of their herd. Rather than just milking the same cow, IVF allows for transformative differentiation in a herd without the need to liquidate and start over. Simply put, an average milking shed can progress genetics monumentally with one positive IVF mating.

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The reproductive health of dairy cows is one of the most important factors influencing dairy herd efficiency. As we continue to genetically select our cows to produce higher quantities of milk, research has shown that we are inadvertently decreasing cow fertility as we prolong the calving interval to maintain this high production.

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