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absTechnicalServices Newsletter

Spring 2013

Welcome to the first installment of the quarterly TS Newsletter! We’ve included some great articles that we hope you are able to put to use in your business. We are eager to be able to introduce a new U.S team member and share some of our new and exciting tools developed in the past few months. In February, Cristian Vergara joined our U.S. technical services team of Diego Vallejo and Lydia Johnson. In this role, Vergara will plan and execute the technical services strategy in key regions of the country interacting closely with the technical services team and key account managers to develop new ways to deliver reproductive value to customers. Our department is made up of Technical Service members throughout the world from Australia to the United States, Chile to the United Kingdom. Having a global team allows us to ensure an expert in any topic is available for consulting or creating materials to assist you. Our team is made up of people with varying degrees of specialty areas, advanced degrees, and years of ABS and other industry experience. From maternity management to grazing, milking to high cow management training, our team is equipped with the right tools to succeed in improving the opportunities that are important to the success of your operation. Find the global TS team at our new website www.abstechservices.com, explore and make use of the tools and resources we have made available. We hope you enjoy! Regards, Dr. Hernando Lopez Genus ABS Global Technical Service Director hernando.lopez@genusplc.com

inside: Managing Calf Immunity p. 2 Importance of AI Technique p. 4 Meet the Team p. 5 ABS Monitor p. 5 What Makes a Successful Farmer? p. 6 Ask the Expert p. 7 Introducing abstechservices.com p. 8


Managing Calf Immunity; Some New Concepts Cristian F. Vergara Mur, DVM, MS Technical Service Consultant, ABS Global - North America

Based on research presented at the 2012 Minnesota Dairy Health Conference Conversely to general knowledge, newborn calves are born immune suppressed rather than immune deficient, as the immune system has actually been developed properly at calving. However, calving corticosteroids generate an immune depression which is known to increase susceptibility of acquiring diseases right after calving. Wisely, nature developed colostrum in response to this weakness, allowing the mother to support the newborn calf by delivering immune protection through this modified milk. Fresh vs. Frozen Colostrum The basic “3 Q’s” of colostrum still remain to be very important in having a successful calf rearing operation – high QUALITY, in ample

QUANTITY and given QUICK after calving. However, a novel part in this process, according Amelia R. Woolums from the University of Georgia, is the role of maternal cells in colostrum to improve calf protection. Research indicates that, along with immunoglobulins (i.e. IgG), maternal cells in colostrum move across the intestinal wall of calves and enter into their tissues, where they seem to influence the development of neonatal immune responses. The importance of these new findings is that, on the contrary, frozen or pasteurized colostrum and colostrum replacers lack whole functional cells and thus may not stimulate the same type of response as is stimulated by fresh colostrum which does contain whole cells. However, more research is necessary to determine the practical importance of this difference. While it is ideal to feed fresh, high quality colostrum, it is still recommended to feed high quality frozen colostrum if high quality fresh colostrum is not available.

Continuing Success after Colostrum Whole colostrum, however, is the starting point to healthy calf growing, calf nutrition is another frequent weak point related to disease prevention. For years, we have been underfeeding milk, hoping the calf will consume concentrate quicker. However, new research has shown that “intensified” milk feeding is not only associated to more milk production in first and second lactation cows but also having stimulating an immune responses in calves. This opens the door for improvement by increasing the quantities we traditionally feed our calves, especially during cold weather. Neal Anderson from the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture proposed a new intensified milk feeding system using acidified milk, where calves are allowed to have free access to milk. Milk is delivered on-demand to satisfy a calf’s inborn need for suckling, starting off with several meals per day consisting of small volumes per meal. These volumes would increase to satisfy health, maintenance and growth. Acidified milk or acidified milk


replacer can be stored at room temperature and allows producers to mix batches at one- to three-day intervals to save on labor without risking decomposition. Nonetheless, this concept comes with a completely different rearing philosophy, where not only are loud bawls and suckle feeding signs of hunger but of good health. Automated feeding and group housing are desired characteristics of this system too. Socialization in pairs or small groups benefits calves, said the researcher. Group housing allows calves to see and mimic behavior, including suckling, which may be the reason for greater milk intakes and gain compared to rearing calves in single pens. In some European countries, legislation has forced the adoption of group rearing systems. In Canada, recommended best practice calls for a minimum total daily intake of 20% of body weight in whole milk (or equivalent nutrient delivery via milk replacer) until 28 days of age. Since body weight increases daily, free-access feeding (cont’d from page 1) or use of automated feeders with simulated free-access programming may be the easiest way to adopt the new feeding recommendations. Nevertheless, management is not the easiest, warm ambient temperatures may convert the acidified milk to cheese and cold ambient temperatures may reduce intake. In addition, excessive stirring may convert milk to butter. As a result, a completely new system will need to be welltested before changing our traditional management. This comes without mention to greater concerns of disease spread in co-mingling calves if prevention, hygiene, management

and ventilation are not the optimal. Further information can be found on the OMAFRA web page (http://www. omafra.gov.on.ca/english/livestock/ dairy/calves/index.html). Affects on Future Performance Michael Van Amburgh from Cornell University refers to the “lactocrine hypothesis”, as a concept that has been recently introduced and describes the effect of milk-born factors (including colostrum in this definition) on the epigenetic development of specific tissues or physiological functions. Thus, the neonate can be programmed maternally and postnatally to alter the development of a particular process, explaining future lactation performance. It is not well understood if the future lactation response in calves fed an intensified milk feeding system is a function of total nutrient intake as a calf or if there are are factors in whole milk that are responsible for the developmental function. Nevertheless, investigations suggest that the long-term milk response is related to protein synthesis, thus energy intake above maintenance coupled with adequate protein and amino acids are essential for the signaling mechanism important for long-term changes in productivity. Work from Faber et al. (2005) demonstrated that the amount of colostrum provided to calves at birth significantly influences pre-pubertal growth rate and showed a trend for milk yield through the second lactation. Other related studies have demonstrated that calves fed maternal colostrum have significantly higher feed efficiency compared to calves

fed serum-derived colostrum replacement. Since the IgG statuses of both treatments were nearly identical it suggests that other factors in colostrum other than IgG’s were important in contributing to the differences (hormones, growth factors).

Similarly, calves fed 4 liters of colostrum and ad libitum intake of milk replacer had significantly higher average daily gains (pre-weaning and post-weaning) than calves fed 2 liters of colostrum and ad libitum intake of milk replacer. Therefore, logically you can conclude that if colostrum induces changes in feed efficiency, the first feeding can possibly affect future milk production too. Keep working hard in the traditional Are lying concepts of unt s cow ed amo r u o v colostrum and y eser t at: healthy calf he d ? Find i .com t n dow ch day vices rearing, but r ea hse know new c e t research is being abs done in this area, driving new tendencies in the near future. The ABS Technical Service team will be open for your questions and glad to assist you in achieving success!


How Important is AI Technique in Achieving Good Reproductive Performance? Numerous factors have an impact on how quickly cows get back in calf and one key area is the person actually inseminating the cows. But how big an impact can technique make? We asked European Genus ABS Technical Services Consultant, Alex Garnett, and European Technical Services Support Manager Phil Salkeld for their views. Q: Is it true that on average, herds served by professional AI technicians achieve higher conception rates than herds than those that chose DIY AI? A: Yes this is true. In recent surveys it has consistently been shown that the average conception rate for dairy cows is greater for professional AI technicians than for DIY inseminators. Numerous studies comparing DIY AI and professional AI technicians showed a higher conception rate for a professional inseminators which resulted in a higher pregnancy rate and shorter calving intervals. Q: What are the main reasons why technician results are better? A: Training & monitoring is the key! A Genus AI technician goes through a comprehensive training programme. The initial training is an intensive week of AI training & teaching covering:

Regular field checks are carried out by members of our technical services team who assess the accuracy of technician semen placement accuracy using ultra sound and a medical contrast agent. Once in the field their performance is constantly monitored using nonreturn rate data and when available, our own Dairy Comp 305 computer records (RMS customers). Many of our technicians also work to a Reproduction Management qualification (RMQ) which is a two day course covering all aspects that influence and affect reproductive performance and efficiency in cattle. Q: How important is it that AI technicians are serving more cows? A: It’s a numbers game! It has been demonstarted that the more inseminations you do the more experience you gain and the better you get.

difficult and problematic cases. Accuracy will decline the fewer times a task is carried out. In a survey it was found that DIY inseminators attending refresher courses could only inseminate 45% of the cows correctly, and in 22% of cows no semen was deposited in the uterus. This contributes to poorer conception rates. Q: Why is monitoring important?

• Oestrus cycle, reproductive hormones, anatomy & physiology. • Semen handling and thawing technique • Flask management and liquid nitrogen handling. • Practical sessions on farms and with reproductive tracts. This is followed by a three month work experience period under the guidance of a senior technician.

For example, a herd of 200 cows that is served by DIY could use an average of 3 straws of semen per animal to create a pregnancy. Therefore, this herd’s inseminator would on average inseminate 600 animals per year. A Genus professional AI technician will be inseminating up to ten times as any animals per year, building familiarity and confidence. The experience gained by this enables them to be efficient and well equipped when faced with

A: If you don’t know how well you are doing, how can you know if you need to improve? In order to improve the standard of service Genus delivers to our customers we benchmark current performance to identify any problem areas should they arise. On DIY farms, fertility performance may not be constantly monitored and therefore poor technique may go undetected, which will have a knock on economic effect.


Q: What about semen handling? A: This is another area where practice and attention to detail really pays. Poor handling and thawing of semen can result in insufficient sperm numbers surviving the thawing process to achieve normal fertility. After thawing a straw correctly there should be sufficient numbers of live progressively motile sperm recovered to ensure normal fertility. This is achieved by thawing the semen in 35˚C – 37˚C (95 - 98˚F) water for 30 seconds. If the water temperature and timing is not consistent it will compromise the result. Genus technicians are equipped with electric thaw baths and digital timers to ensure an accurate consistent thawing technique. This is especially important when using sexed semen. Q: But by doing DIY AI surely I save money? A: Any saving can soon be lost if performance is poorer. Lower pregnancy rates will always reduce potential performance and profit. Every day open costs the farmer on average £5.00 (US figures range from $0 - 5.00) per day. If a cow is inseminated by a professional technician, research shows that a successful insemination is more likely, resulting in a pregnancy and reducing days open. Using a professional technician is more cost effective as time from calving to conception can be reduced. In addition, in many cases straws used per pregnancy are higher on DIY farms where conception rates can be lower. So the saving from using a professional technician is a combination of reduced semen use and fewer days open. Rather than being seen as an area where costs can be cut, the use of an AI technician should be viewed as an investment in better fertility performance.

meet the Team Name: Cristian F Vergara Mur Current Location: Madison, WI (AKA Dairyland) Years in the Dairy Industry: 13 years (2000) Years with ABS: 7 years (2006) Current Role and Start Date: I am a US TS consultant in the Midwest, focusing my time doing hands-on training, data analysis and farm visits. When possible, I take part in developing global TS projects. I have been in this role since February 2013. Areas of Expertise: Transition cow health and DC305 data analysis Reasons for Expertise Areas: I got into fresh cows as I realized how much they impacted first service reproductive performance. In addition, a whole world of metabolic disorders was opened up to me during my recent research thesis, allowing me the challenge to understand and explain to producers the effects of the disorders, creating solutions and doing preventive monitoring. I have found that many people don’t have time to evaluate their data and people; however if people monitor KPI’s or at least understand their results, they usually have better results as they take preventive actions. Hobbies: Family! We enjoy doing things together from cooking and biking to swimming and enjoying a weekend breakfast together. Grilling and the sea are my passions. Family: My wife Camila – a veterinarian interested in food safety, and our son Agustin – a very funny, smart and happy boy. Plus all my roots who live in our home country of Chile.

ABS Monitor ABS Monitor is a service provided by ABS that helps dairy producers, veterinarians and technicians manage their reproduction as well as daily events on-farm. The software-based service has many unique characteristics making it practical, simple, effective, and easy to use. There’s more to ABS Monitor than an on-farm, stand alone program, you have a connection point with the Genus ABS Technical Service Team of Experts to solve your problems and propose the best solution in whatever subject and production system you have, all in real-time, wherever you are. Focusing on quickly producing pregnancies in easy-to-view reports and management lists, you have immediate capabilities to determine where to focus your energy with alerts, alarming you of good and bad areas regarding herd performance. ABS Monitor is currently available in Brazil, Chile, Uruguay, Italy, United Kingdom and Germany; however, if you would like more information visit the ABS Monitor webpage here.


What makes a successful farmer successful? How we define success in farming, and what factors determine successful outcomes may seem obvious questions, but in fact they often lacks a satisfactory answer: Director of Projects, David Cooke explains how Promar set out to provide an answer and what the research reveals. To better understand the factors driving success, Promar International instigated a project with the University of Reading to try to provide some answers. The project has been carried out under a Knowledge Transfer Partnership, a scheme which encourages the transfer of academic knowledge into industry. This study investigated British dairy farmers, but many of the findings can just as easily apply to producers of all kinds of agricultural products around the world. The first question we needed to address was what we actually mean by “success”. There are several possible valid definitions, and success can mean different things to different people – technical efficiency, environmental excellence, personal satisfaction and quality of life. Since all farmers are ultimately running a business, we took our measure of success to be financial performance. This is often a pre-requisite to the other definitions of success. We used a composite of a range of indicators, such as profit as a percentage of turnover and change in net worth over three years. This was intended to avoid bias towards certain types of farming systems, farm size or ownership structure. We wanted to understand what drives successful outcomes, besides good farming practice: how do successful farmers think, make decisions and what motivates them? We endeavoured to explore farmer attitudes, background and experience n o ore ite: m to reveal the characteristics which n Lear r’s webs l.com separate the best from the rest, and a a io n to begin to put a value on them. t a Prom n p

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We analysed questionnaires and financial data from 100 dairy farmers who use Promar’s Farm Business Accounts (FBA) service which provides fully reconciled and detailed management accounts. Analysis is ongoing, but has already revealed a number of key findings:

• Successful farmers are highly profit-focussed. They have clearly defined goals and objectives, and believe their business must be orientated to maximise profit. Less financially successful farmers often more focussed on generating turnover.

• Successful farmers invest in training. They believe you can never stop learning and improving, and invest in upgrading their own business management and general skills as well as in training their staff.

• Successful farmers spend less time in the office, and more time out on farm.

• Successful farmers believe that it is important to feel and appear to be successful – these farmers may be able to attract better deals with suppliers.

• Successful farmers regularly compare themselves to industry benchmarks. Those who carried out no form of benchmarking were the least successful. • Successful farmers enjoy sharing ideas and talking to others.

• Perhaps most importantly of all, successful farmers take ownership when things go wrong. They do not accept that poor results are due to factors out of their control, and so are more likely to plan and develop effective solutions to mitigate risk.

As the analysis continues, this research will create a powerful and unique database which will begin to throw some light on predictors of farmer success. There are some clear lessons to be learned already, and which can be applied to all sectors of agriculture, both in the UK and beyond. Modern agricultural and food markets will all be more challenging in the future. This includes the issue of a tight supply and demand balance, the impact of climate change and other environmental pressures and a consolidating customer base. We will also see rising costs of production, ever more challenging competitive landscape and the slow recovery of the global economy. A really good understanding of what makes farm managers successful has, to our minds, never been more pertinent. Farmers can take positive steps. These include – undertaking benchmarking, defining their goals and objectives in terms of profit, understanding their cost structures more fully, investing in training, carrying out risk analysis and contingency planning on all aspects of the business. They can also engage with other farmers and industry groups and ultimately develop a mindset to be successful. With these tools, which are available to all farmers, it is possible, we are sure, to help create more resilient farm businesses and more sustainable agricultural industries.


Ask the

Expert

What does it mean to find blood while rebreeding or within a few days after breeding a cow? In the field, one of the biggest concerns I get from on-farm technicians is finding blood on the breeding gun when they rebreed a cow within 24 hours after the previous AI. Similarly, when confirming heat under secondary signs during mucus extraction the breeder may find blood as well. Most breeders have three answers to these concerns. The first and most common thought is when the dominant follicle ‘pops’ (or releases the egg) the leftover hole in the ovary bleeds. The second thought is the blood expressed after having bred 1-3 days earlier comes from a loss of the embryo caused by an accidental induced abortion after having bred a pregnant cow. The last common explanation is when they confuse human physiology (menses event) which they interpret as not getting pregnant from the breeding. During these conversations I have realized how important it is to explain the Diego Vallejo Technical Service Consultant physiology behind it. These amber/light red color vaginal mucus diego.vallejomackliff@genusplc.com • 806-401-4400 secretions are caused by a mixture of mucus and postestrual or metaestrual bleeding, which physiologically occurs 24 – 72 hours after a normal heat when progesterone is constantly increasing after ovulation. On the contrary, primates/human’s menstruation happens when progesterone withdraws, so bleeding occurs due to the loss of the superficial layers of endometrium, which is where the embryo would implant.

Take home message 1. When supervising breeders, and blood is detected on a cow that was bred 1-3 days prior to this, the heat detection was in fact accurate and his work should be praised as it was a true heat. If blood is found with no breeding within the last few days, this would indicate that a heat was missed due to poor heat detection, inadequate lock- ups and/or minimal heat expression. 2. If a bleeding event doesn’t follow a breeding, begin to encourage the breeder/ management to record this information. It should be recorded within 2-3 days of a heat/breeding. This will help to uncover silent heats and/or poor lock-ups. 3.

When finding a cow in heat 24 hours after breeding, encourage the breeder to extract mucus, distinguishing the presence of blood to avoid rebreeding which will only waste semen. If mucus looks normal proceed with breeding the cow. This means that the previous day breeding was too early as it was the beginning of the estrus and a second breeding could aid in the conception of the cow.


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Newsletter Spring 2013