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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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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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Research on dairy calves is paving the way for methods of managing and housing these animals that will facilitate calf care and improve living conditions for these young animals. In this [article], I will review research from three areas I think are important:

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Efficient heifer growth that leads to bigger heifers at an earlier age can maximize profitability on your dairy operation. The key is making sure your heifers don’t just gain weight, but achieve their genetic potential for ideal height, weight and girth so they reach breeding age earlier and enter the milking string sooner. This leads to substantial profit potential in a variety of ways.

Most progressive dairy producers already strive to calve heifers between 22 and 24 months to pay back heifer rearing costs earlier. The economics explain why.

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During last year’s heat wave in California, dairyman Greg Anema of Ontario, California discovered the two coolest places on his dairy – the breezeway in his parlor and a kiddie pool under a shade tree close to the milk barn. He also found out how his cows try to cool off.

“I’ve got young children and while they were playing in the hose I jumped in,” Anema says. “It was a way to just try to cool off.”

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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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Now is the time to think where changes can be made on the dairy to lessen the impacts of hot weather on dairy cows. Besides changing the cow’s environment to lessen the effects of heat stress, dairymen may also modify their feeding program in order to give their animals additional relief during hot weather. The main objective of feeding cows during heat stress should be to maximize feed intake.

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