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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 science of monitoring milk yield and deviations from the expected lactation curve dates back more than half a century – when Dairy Herd Improvement testing began.

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In August 2018, six new health traits – milk fever, displaced abomasum, ketosis, mastitis, metritis and retained placenta – were introduced to the Net Merit index (NM$), adding to a growing list of low heritability traits available in the last few years.

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The selection of replacement heifers in commercial dairy farms has been traditionally characterized by very low intensity of selection, because in general farmers retain nearly every heifer calf as a future herd replacement. However, recent improvements in herd management have reduced involuntary culling rates and improved reproductive efficiency, which has led to the ability to produce excess heifers.

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When dairy producers have valuable genetic and management information but fail to take advantage of it, it might be termed unfortunate. However, think of all the potential information that could be provided but isn’t (yet); these absences are preventing real progress and can be called “missed opportunities.” Obviously, similar situations are pervasive everywhere in life, but fortunately U.S. dairy producers can avoid a few of these missed opportunities, which we’ll detail in this article.

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Sometimes we limit ourselves because we don’t know our options – or have heard misrepresentations about what is possible. Many past unachievable efficiencies or techniques are now a standard part of everyday life, on and off the farm.

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Improved heifer raising and reproduction results in fewer total days on feed, earlier return on investment, improved cash flow by having fewer heifers on feed and more milking cows, increased first-lactation milk and more lifetime milk.

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