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Peruse practical information for the dairy producer on essential topics including management, A.I. and breeding, new technology, and feed and nutrition.

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Sitting in a classroom or studying in his dorm room, 19-year-old Luke Vander misses working outdoors. He frequently longs for a 12-hour workday treating cows on his father’s 700-cow dairy in south-central Michigan. But Luke, a sophomore studying animal science at Michigan State University, also knows attending to his university studies is just as important.

“You have the rest of your life to be on the farm,” Vander says. “You’re only going to gain more from going to college.”

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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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The birth of a heifer calf on a dairy operation represents the beginning of the next generation. Most of the time, these calves have the best genetics of all animals in an operation. Unfortunately, the time around birth is when calves are at the greatest risk of dying. In addition, this period is the time dams will frequently experience health problems as well. Difficulty calving, commonly referred to as dystocia, usually increases the risk of problems, including death, for both the calf and dam.

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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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Much research has examined the effect of different environments on milk production and dry matter intake (DMI) of small groups of cattle over relatively short periods of time. It is our view that many of these studies have inadequately demonstrated the true impact of environmental factors on cow health by failing to monitor low rank sub-groups of the population.

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The main goal of dairy nutrition is to match the nutrient requirements of the cows with nutrients provided by feed ingredients. However, in addition, a quality dairy cow ration should optimize cow health and production, maximize forage feeding, minimize the excretion of nutrients and be cost-efficient. This [article] will outline current trends in feeding dairy cows and highlight some of the challenges we may face in the future when formulating dairy cow rations.

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