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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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Editor’s note: The following section includes commentary from questions posed to Dr. Richard Holliday, a holistic veterinarian. To ask your own question, e-mail the question to . Answers to submissions will be printed in Progressive Dairyman’s October organics section.

“Hey, Doc, waddaya got for mastitis?” is a question posed by dairymen everywhere. I wish I had a good answer. Treatments range from frequent stripping out of the udder to the newest antibiotic or immune stimulant. Fortunately, many treatments are successful. But some treatments only suppress the symptoms, and when the effect of the treatment wears off the symptoms return with a vengeance. Unfortunately, any success with treatment often interferes with the need or desire to address the actual cause of the problems. Holistic veterinary medicine may have some insights into this problem – insights often overlooked by today’s dairymen.

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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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Marketers have consistently maintained that sex sells, but what about “sexed”? Within dairy’s A.I. industry, the word seems to be proving the slogan is still true. During the last six months, A.I. companies have rolled out sexed semen offerings one after the other. Each of the new programs have clever names. But beyond the fancy titles, there are some suggested do’s and don’ts for using sexed semen products.

“My sense is that sexed semen is here to stay. That it’s a technology that we hope will mature. But even in its present state, there are definitely places where people should be using it,” says John Fetrow, a University of Minnesota researcher.

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New all-breed formula announced
Records from all breeds, including crossbreds, are now combined and analyzed together in one animal model. All relatives, regardless of breed composition, contribute to each animal’s genetic evaluation, and more cows are compared within management group in herds containing multiple breeds and crossbreds.

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During the past several decades, selection for increased milk yield has had a temporal association with declines in fertility and reproductive efficiency in dairy cows. In the U.S., an average annual decrease of 0.5 percent in conception rate at first service occurred between 1975 and 1997. In the United Kingdom (between 1978 and 1996) and in Spain (between 1991 and 2000) conception rate at first service decreased 1 percent per year.

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This is the time of year to get serious about heat abatement strategies for your herd. Though we enjoy the warmer weather, most lactating cows perform best at temperatures from 40 to 65°F. Signs of heat stress start to occur at around 75°F. This spring, once you’ve installed your new fans and sprinkler systems and cleaned off your existing fans in the lactating herd, you also need to consider making sure your close-up dry cows are kept cool.

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