The POINT - Spring 2021

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Spring 2021 January 2021

The POINT “As a cooperative, the board of directors is committed to ongoing investments in services that benefit the producers we work with. As dairy producers, our board understands the importance of DHI and convenient diagnostic testing on our own farms and wanted to ensure availability to more Wisconsin producers.” Paul Trierweiler, President, CentralStar

CentralStar expands DHI and milk-analysis services


entralStar Cooperative and Gallenberger Dairy Records (GDR), an independent, certified milk-testing association and lab in Kewaunee, Wisconsin, have signed a purchase agreement effective June 1, 2021. “As a cooperative, the board of directors is committed to ongoing investments in services that benefit our owners,” said CentralStar Board President Paul Trierweiler. “As dairy producers, our board understands the importance of DHI and convenient diagnostic testing on our own farms and wanted to ensure easy availability to more Wisconsin producers.”

count, solids-non-fat, milk urea nitrogen, Johne’s, bovine viral diarrhea, neospora, mastitis, pregnancy, and others. In preparation for processing more samples and working with more dairy farms, the CentralStar lab added equipment, as well as staff to meet producer expectations for sample analysis.

“We’re excited to expand CentralStar’s milk-testing and diagnostic services in Wisconsin, along with adding the Gallenberger staff to our DHI Specialist and laboratory teams,” said Kevin Haase, Wisconsin CentralStar DHI Manager. All milk-testing services previously “CentralStar and Mike (Gallenberger, performed at the GDR laboratory will owner, GDR) have worked collaboratively move to CentralStar’s lab in Kaukauna, for many years. Both of our organizations Wisconsin. Built in 2017, the lab uses state- are dedicated to providing fast, accurate, of-the-art techniques including infrared and reliable milk-testing and diagnostic spectroscopy, flow cytometry, enzymeservices.” linked immunoassay (ELISA), polymerase chain reaction (PCR), and others to process CentralStar began providing DHI Services more than 2.3 million samples, annually. in 2000 with the mergers of Michigan Samples can be analyzed for more than DHIA and Fox Valley DHI. Since that a dozen components and characteristics time, the cooperative has become the including butterfat, protein, somatic cell fastest-growing national DHI organization.

CentralStar DHI records are processed through Dairy Records Management Systems (DRMS), which processes more herds and cows across the U.S. than any other dairy-records processing center. CentralStar pioneered the development of milk diagnostics on DHI samples. In 2000, CentralStar began providing diagnostic services with the development of the Johne’s milk ELISA. In 2011, CentralStar worked in collaboration with IDEXX to validate the Milk Pregnancy Test, which is now performed on over 5 million samples in North America, annually. More recently, CentralStar researchers have developed diagnostic tests for bovine leukosis virus, A2, and mastitis organisms. “We have a lot in common with CentralStar and have been working together for more than 10 years,” said Mike. “As I evaluated next steps for the business, it was a natural fit to sell to CentralStar. Our like values, including a commitment to a high level of service to dairy producers and caring for employees were driving factors for our decision.”




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Fertility MATTERS To maximize your herd’s reproductive performance, you would think you need to be an expert in dairy cattle reproduction, but you don’t. Instead, you can tap into the knowledge and experience of CentralStar’s 200+ member team that are experts in this field. Beginning with this issue of The POINT, we will share ideas, experiences and insights into methods and tools proven to positively influence reproductive performance in herds our experts work with. In this inaugural article we asked northern Indiana A.I. Specialist, Brian Landis, about the types of reproductive challenges he encounters when mycotoxins are present in feed and methods he uses in the herds he works with. The signs… Three of the biggest indicators that mycotoxins are influencing reproduction in a herd are cystic cows, abortions and irregular heat cycles. Toxins in the feed often end up being a key contributor to those problems. Fortunately, these are issues that can be fixed relatively quickly. What to do… One poor herd check isn’t a reason to be alarmed. Instead, I look for trends. If we have two or three consecutive herd checks where the number of abortions and cystic cows are up, I'll suggest we test the feed for mycotoxins. Nine out of ten times feed samples come back with toxin exposure. Once we have the test results we decide if we need to dig deeper for another source, or explore starting the herd on DTX™ or BioCycle Plus™ (BCP). These products are used in a lot of herds I work with, as well as my own herd and I’ve seen the difference they make. Not just for cows… When I see heifers that are not showing heats, or have rough hair coats, it makes me suspect toxin exposure. Often in these situations the veterinarian finds the heifers reproductive systems are very immature. Because of that they are on feed longer, costing more to raise them. Being slow to mature can also influence conception and semen costs. What to expect… Everybody wants immediate results, but that’s not how reproduction works. One way I know DTX or BCP is working is that within two weeks, I see loose manure, that then becomes consistent. Also, the herd’s somatic cell count can jump for a few

Brian Landis A.I. Specialist

days then drop below normal levels. Both occur because the toxins are being flushed out. I also notice more cows laying down, chewing their cud. Toxins can cause cows to not feel well, so once their gut stops bothering them, they are more comfortable and content. As for reproductive improvements, we start to see fewer cystic cows, more consistent heats, and fewer abortions within the first three months. Within six months we see improvements in heat detection, conception, and pregnancy rates. In my own herd… Whether I feed BCP or DTX to my herd depends on the situation I'm facing. One of the main reasons I always have one of them in the ration is because my bunker face is exposed for a long period of time, which can be an issue as mold can really grow if you don’t get the feed used quickly. I initially investigated these products because my herd was experiencing more abortions than normal between three and six months. I tested the feed and found toxins in the corn silage. I added DTX to the ration for about a year until the feed ran out. When I moved into new feed, I thought I could stop using DTX, but when I tried, problems popped up. I’ve learned that even if you know you don’t have toxins in your silage, you can get toxin exposure from feedstuffs you purchase. Because there is variation in every shipment you receive, it's difficult to manage. What I found with my own herd is if I just keep DTX or BCP in the ration it eliminates the worries, and the herd stays protected.

Four herds with unresolved problems associated with chronic exposure to several mycotoxins were evaluated for pregnancy rates, abortion rates and heat detection. Scan the QR code to see the full report.

Heifer survival rate impacts p T

o achieve maximum profit on dairies you need to start with successful heifer management as it impacts profitability from many angles. You know it is expensive to raise a heifer. To recoup the cost, it needs to be spread across more productive years of the animal. To do that you must raise the appropriate number of heifers (for expansion or maintenance) and keep them healthy, so they provide maximum return and support long-term sustainability. Heifer non-completion rate, also called the heifer cull rate, includes heifers that are born alive that leave the herd before their first calving. These are essentially a loss and should be kept to a minimum. Historically dairy farms have raised all their replacements. With the great improvements made in pre-weaned calf management, heifer nutrition and reproduction, dairies are now able to raise fewer heifers, which in turn reduces costs and improves the number of resources devoted to them, ensuring superior performance.

Tips to increase survival and red 1. Keep the death rate below 5% for pre-weaned calves (many herds now are in the 2-3% range). Ensure calves receive plenty of high-quality colostrum within an hour of birth. 2. Keep morbidity rates low. Calves that become ill must be treated several times and are never able to express their true genetic potential. 3. Feed calves for accelerated growth, doubling weight by weaning. 4. Know how many heifers you need monthly. Raising too many heifers is costly. Once the number you need is determined, cull poor doers and low genetic quality animals early to reduce costs or breed low genetic animals to beef genetics.

The importance of reducing non-completion rate The expense of raising heifers has been at the forefront of discussion in recent years. Not only has the number of heifers on farms increased, but so has the cost to raise to them. Reducing the non-completion rate is one way to reduce this cost. The study done by Compeer Financial shows the top herds for profitability had a 95% survival rate and the bottom herds had a 93% survival rate. Managing non-completion rate is critical to profitability and deserves attention. But don’t forget, survivability must be balanced with both quality health and genetics. Contact me or talk to your CentralStar team for help in understanding your numbers and implementing tactics that can improve heifer survival rate and profitability.

~ Julie Ainsworth

Dairy Records & Consulting Coordinator, CentralStar

4 • 800.631.3510

profitability from many angles

duce non-completion rate 5. Avoid overcrowding as it has serious negative impacts on growth and reproductive performance. 6. Invest in heifer facilities that allow heifers to grow well, stay clean and remain free from lameness. If improving facilities is not an option, consider a custom raiser if they can do a better job. 7. Feed a balanced ration for both frame growth and weight gain. Both breeding ability and growth are seriously influenced by nutrition. 8. Maintain a strong breeding program. Reproductive failure is the second leading cause of heifer loss and is the most expensive because you have incurred all the rearing costs with poor salvage value.

Tools to increase heifer survival rates First Day Formula CR® - Equivalent to good-quality maternal colostrum, helps to keep the death rate low. - Fortified with essential vitamins and minerals, aids in passive transfer and reduces weaning mortality. - Use in the first 6-12 hours of a calf’s life or when maternal colostrum is inadequate. CONVERT™ - Provide greater protection from illnesses to keep morbidity rates low. - Contains a special blend of direct-fed microorganisms, L-form bacteria, microbial sugars, enzymes, and specialized proteins. - Use when calves are lethargic, not eating and overall doing poorly. Genetic Planning and Inventory Management - Based on your milk market and future plans, CentralStar Consultants develop mating recommendations to meet your inventory needs. - Create the right amount of pregnancies to meet your goals and potentially create new revenue streams. CowManager® - Real-time fertility insights help identify peak heats, silent heats, pregnancies and potential abortions. - Provides information on when to precisely breed by combining heat intensity and stage of heat. - Management from your smartphone 24/7 saves time, labor and costs. Contact your CentralStar team to learn more about available tools to increase heifer survival rates.

Enhancing producer profitability through integrated services.


CowManager at Summit Farms CowManager® has been an integral tool for Summit Farms in Plymouth, Wisconsin for several years. Connie Loehr, General Manager at the dairy, recently shared their experience with CowManager and how it has helped to more efficiently manage the dairy.

"We chose to go with CowManager because of the ease of getting away from collars. Adjusting collars all the time was a real pain. The tags are simple to use, and they are easy to put on. We currently have sensors on all the cows, and we put sensors on heifers at six months old because they're out on pasture. With sensors in the heifers, we can monitor more easily if any of them are not feeling well. The modules that we use with CowManager are the Nutrition, Health and Fertility. When we check CowManager in the morning we can see alerts. Some are just suspicious activity and some are clear that a cow is sick. There are daily and hourly graphs and reports. We like to look at the hourly report, because if a cow has a

low activity spot and then she starts eating again, we are not as concerned about her. A lot of our employees have the CowManager app on their phone. That way when we’re out in the barn or when I’m at home, we can just look up a cow and see if she's pregnant or how far along she is. It's pretty straight forward. The CowManager system has saved lives on our farm, because when they are sick, like with toxic mastitis for example, they stop ruminating before they physically show signs. With the alert we can get on top of the problem right away and because of that most of our toxic mastitis cows are cured. The CowManager system has been extremely helpful for us. It is easy to use, it saves us a lot of time. I would recommend it."


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Why all the hype? From fast-paced social media videos, to being the sires you see first in the Holstein sire directory; you surely have heard about NxGEN®. So, what’s with all the hype? We asked three CentralStar experts to share their experience with the program and why so many producers are enrolling in NxGEN.

Lynn Harbaugh, Area Sales Manager. Lynn has more than 30 years in the industry. Lynn has bred or developed numerous All-American nominations and judged at World Dairy Expo multiple times.

Doug Lehman, Area Sales Manager. Doug has also worked as a District Sales Manager and an A.I. Technician in different regions of the country for more than 30 years.

Jim Sipiorski, Director of A.I. Services. Jim has dedicated 30+ years to CentralStar working in many roles including as an Area Sales Manager and Genetic Consultant. Jim is a member of the World Dairy Expo Board.

“I work with 80-cow herds and 1,000+cow herds that are enrolled in the NxGEN program. Some of the farms enroll because they like to dabble in genetics and create merchandising opportunities. Others purely want to use the best genetics possible on their very best animals. Either way, NxGEN is a program that fits both of those goals.

“I have found NxGEN to be a program that appeals to everyone. Producers like that you aren’t required to buy every bull in the program, but instead can mix and match choices with the current lineup sires. Another benefit is once you pay the membership fee you always have access to the program.

“When I talk with producers about NxGEN I like to compare it to seed corn development. Each year the seed corn business brings the latest advancements in disease resistance, yields and sustainability. A similar scenario occurs with early NxGEN sire usage.

One approach I see herds use includes breeding their top animals with sexed NxGEN sires, and then beef genetics on the bottom end. A strategy like this has minimal additional cost to get heifers from very elite genetics. With NxGEN you aren’t locked into buying a certain number of units, however there is volume pricing. Because of that, the difference in cost between getting heifers from the very best genetics, compared to what is commercially available is minimal.

Regardless of herd size, NxGEN gives dairy producers access to the very best genetics, and they aren’t committed to buying a lot. Producers can buy as few as 10 units of an elite bull that interests them. We’ve had some bulls come through the program that offer something unique, like being polled, those genetics are of interest to some and being enrolled in NxGEN allows them early access.”

Producers appreciate this program because it’s a small membership fee that gives them access to the very best genetics. At the end of the day, the best genetics are even more affordable because they buy from a cooperative.”

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Each new crop of NxGEN sires provides improved traits that offer greater lifetime opportunities for a dairy cow and herd. Through NxGEN, producers can access these advanced genetics at the earliest time possible leading to greater profitability and sustainability.”

Join the Program - Apply for membership at Choose from Elite Genetics - Ships direct to your farm within one week.

Enhancing producer profitability through integrated services.

Capture Breed-Leading Genetic Trends



P.O. Box 23157, Lansing, MI 48909-3157 800.631.3510 • Return Service Requested

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• Seven, $1,000 scholarships • Application deadline is June 1, 2021 • Get details and apply at CentralStar, its agents or employees cannot and do not guarantee the conception rate, gender, quality or productivity to be obtained in connection with the use of its products or recommended techniques. It makes no warranties of any kind whatsoever, expressed or implied, which extend beyond the description of its products and hereby disclaims all warranties of merchantability and fitness for a particular purpose. In the unlikely event that any of our products shall be proven to be defective, damages resulting from their use shall exclude consequential damages and be limited to the purchase price of the product. Find complete trademark and warranty statement at All gender SELECTed semen is processed using SexedULTRA technology. ™SexedULTRA and SexedULTRA 4M are trademarks of Inguran LLC.™gender SELECTed semen is a trademark of Select Sires Inc. ™NxGEN is a trademark of Select Sires. ®CowManager is a registered trademark of Agis Automatisering. Select DTX® and Select BioCyle Plus and CONVERT are trademarks of Select Sires and manufactured by Agrarian Solutions, Middlebury, Indiana.

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to know she's still pregnant before dry off with routine milk pregnancy testing. Time to Rest

Least invasive method to confirm pregnancy. Promotes resting time which is associated with improved production. Research shows one hour of lost resting time leads to approximately 3.5 lbs. less milk/cow/day.

Saves Time

Conduct through routine DHI samples or send samples direct. Eliminates time and labor to sort, restrain and palpate animals.

Now is the Time

At 98% accurate, the milk pregnancy test is convenient and costeffective to use before dry off.

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