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January 2020


Testing milk samples to gain the same insights as traditional methods, eliminates on-farm labor, improves cow comfort, and saves money.

NET HERD REPLACEMENT COST AFFECT ON PROFITABILITY How reducing this metric can drive your herd's profit margins and production potential.


Feed is seldom affected by only one mycotoxin. Technologically advanced mycotoxin analyses for numerous toxins is important.

PHOTO: Jason Huttenga, Herdsman and Jason Benthem, co-owner of Benthem Brothers Dairy, McBain, Michigan

One thing leads to another

with activity monitoring at Benthem Brothers Dairy


ow much different would the past 12 months have been for your dairy if you had an extra $1.57/head/day in revenue? If it’s too early for mental gymnastics I’ll tell you - it would have been a game changer.

Activity Monitoring Cost/Benefits Per/Head/Day $1.57

Since installing an activity monitoring system, Benthem Brothers Dairy has experienced the financial benefit of positive changes in reproductive performance including more calves and reduced semen expense, as well as improved production, and milk quality. Grab a pen and read along to translate the impact these changes could have to your bottom line.

Would you be interested in learning how to get started down that path? Of course you would. Spoiler alert... like everything else worthwhile you’ve accomplished, it takes investment and work. Benthem Brothers Dairy in McBain, Michigan was an early adopter of electronic activity monitoring, installing Select Detect™ nearly 10 years ago. Their decision was fueled by lack of time, too many synchronization injections and results that did not meet their goals. Skeptics laughed, saying it was a fad and wouldn’t work. A decade later Jason Benthem and his team are the ones smiling.

$0.06 Revenue


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One thing leads to another... In 2009, Benthem Brothers herd already enjoyed a 28,000 pound rolling herd average (RHA) with a 150,000 somatic cell count (SCC) on three-times-a-day milking. These are numbers most would and should be proud of, but reproduction on the farm was another story. Stuck at a 20 percent pregnancy rate, 140 days open and a 14-month calving interval, Jason knew they could do better. Fast forward to 2019. Benthem Brothers herd averages 70,000 SCC and over 31,000 pounds of milk. Reproduction has skyrocketed to a 32 percent pregnancy rate, while days open has decreased to 109, and calving interval to 12.8 months. Translating the impact those changes can have to the bottom line doesn’t have to be difficult, in fact I think you’ll enjoy it. Grab a pen and follow along by writing down your numbers in the space to the right. Reduced Semen Costs Moving pregnancy rate from 20 to 32 percent was simple. Breeding more, and specifically cows at the right time, leads to more pregnant cows and improved pregnancy rates. Improving pregnancy rate has major benefits regarding production and culling opportunities, but also saves on semen cost at about 4 cents/head/ day. To figure this out, multiply your herd size by 1.5 and add a zero to the result, that’s how much you could save a year. Go ahead, write it down. Since adopting this technology, the estimated savings on semen cost alone has paid for two-thirds of the investment to date. More Calves More calves to sell can mean more revenue for your operation. While the amount of revenue is largely influenced by market conditions and your breeding strategy, having another revenue stream can be a big help. Do you know how many more calves you have every year when you shave 1.2 months off your calving interval like Benthem Brothers did? Multiply your herd size by 8 percent. At reported average prices as high as $125 for beef cross calves


your return could be about 3 cents/head/ day. Do your own math. Add a zero to your herd size to find what your annual revenue increase could be. I’d be wrong if I said all of this is the result of an electronic activity monitoring system. But you would be wrong if you didn’t agree that it played a significant role. With activity monitoring systems, one thing leads to another. What started as small improvements at Benthem Brothers in conception and heat detection quickly blossomed into impacting every facet of the dairy. Everything else got easier.

Do The Math

Reduced Sem en Costs: (Herd Size) ______ _ x 1.5 = $_________ 0.00 More Calves: (Herd Size) ______ ___ x 1 = $_________ 0.00 Milk Quality: (Herd Size) ______ ____ ÷ 2 = $_______ 00.00 Production: (Herd Size) ______ ___ ÷ 2 = $______0 00.00

Total Additio nal Yearly Rev enue


Everything Else Reducing the herds SCC from a 150,000 to 70,000 is the result of excellent

management, early actionable health alerts, smart culling decisions and great cow health. In 2014 Benthem Brothers original

Impact of increased conception rate on semen costs

Activity System Adoption

Since installing an activity monitoring system in 2010, the impact of improved conception rate at Benthem Brothers has considerably reduced semen expenses. Using a $15/unit blend and a 13-month calving interval it adds up to $198,322. • 800.631.3510

activity monitoring system was reaching the end of its lifespan. A decision had to be made to invest again or go back to how it used to be. Going back was not an option. Fortunately, there was new technology available that could also help with herd health.

Milk Quality Improved milk quality can pay significant dividends in the form of quality bonuses. What difference would 20 cents/cwt make at the end of the year? Figure it out by dividing your herd size in half and add two zeros. That is the dollar amount accessing more quality bonuses could have for your dairy. Where you’re starting from will impact what opportunity you have, but it could be as high as 14 cents/head/day. Go ahead, do the math. Production The increase in milk, fat and protein starts with good reproduction, healthy cows and good nutrition. On this dairy it totaled 3,300 more pounds of milk, 72 pounds more fat

Activity System Adoption

RHA Milk

Jason knew they didn’t want to change batteries or collars. Fortunately, heat detection in the form of an ear tag was available in CowManager®, eliminating those hassles. But wait, there’s more. That little ear tag also monitors cow health. Getting cows bred on time, plus finding and treating cows sooner equals better transition. Better transition along with good bedding and good nutrition equates to lots of high-quality milk. All things you know, but what’s the real math?

Change in Rolling Herd Average and Somatic Cell Count

A combination of good reproduction, through an activity monitoring system, healthy cows and good nutrition resulted in 3,300 pounds more milk, 72 pounds more protein and 132 pounds more fat per cow. With adoption of an activity monitoring system, milk production has increased 3,300 pounds and SCC has dropped by 80,000. These improvements are the result of many factors including excellent management, healthy cows, good nutrition, good reproduction and early actionable health alerts.

and 132 pounds more protein. How much could that have helped this past year? Do your own math. Divide your herd size in half and add three zeros. Significant increases in pounds of milk and components can lead to revenue increases of $1.36/head/day. If you’ve played along you should have some dollar figures scribbled in the column to the left. Add them up and take a minute to consider how that additional revenue might have changed things for your dairy this past year. Admittedly the math I used was unconventional, but it was intentional. Do the math your own way and I think you’ll find that in the end we arrive at the same place, which is that electronic activity monitoring is here to stay and can have a significant impact to your bottom line.

Heat Detection Rates

Heat Detection

Activity System Adoption

Whether we are talking about a math exercise like this or the success of your operation, the key is deciding to start, and to be willing to try something different. Nearly ten years ago, Jason took those steps by leveraging new technology and in doing so turned long time challenges for their dairy into a distant memory. It’s an inspiring story, what will yours be? Contact me if you would like to explore this idea further.

Doug Moyer, Director Dairy Herd Information, CentralStar Contact Doug:

Prior to 2010, Benthem Brothers used synchronization programs for 65 percent of the breedings. Adoption of an activity monitoring system like CowManger has increased heat detection rates, allowing the dairy to dramatically reduce the use of synchronization to less than 15 percent of all breedings. The superior heat detection CowManager provides is the foundation for Benthem Brothers reproductive success.

Enhancing producer profitability through integrated services.


Next Level


Genetic Gains Ask your CentralStar team how to enroll in the NxGEN program to begin capturing next-level genetic gains!






























12/19 CDCB/HA/Zoetis Genomic Evaluations. ®TPI is a registered trademark of Holstein Association USA. DWP$ is a registered trademark of Zoetis Inc., its affiliates and/or its licensors. ™NxGEN is a trademark of Select Sires Inc. RENEGADE photo by Jordan, all other bull photos by Thomas.

CentralStar awards $7,000 in scholarships Seven, $1,000 scholarships were recently awarded to students pursuing education in agricultural-related fields. Scholarship recipients include Collin Wille, Rice Lake, Wis., Brett Mullikin, Waldo, Wis., Jillian Tyler, Granton, Wis., Bailey Larson, Alma Center, Wis., Emma Gwidt, Pulaski, Wis., Madeline Meyer, Ionia, Mich., and Brandon Biese, Chilton, Wis. Wille is in his final year at Northeast Iowa Community College majoring in dairy science. His long-term goal is to return to the home farm. His parents are Jeff and Debbie. Mullikin is in his last year at the University of Wisconsin-Madison Farm and Industry Short Course with a focus on farm and equipment operations. Upon graduation he wants to return to the home farm. He is the son of Dan and Shelly.


Tyler is a sophomore at University of Wisconsin-River Falls. After being involved in FFA for many years, it was easy for Tyler to decide on a major in agricultural education with intentions of moving back to central Wisconsin to be an agricultural teacher. Tyler is the daughter of David and Karen.

Meyer is a senior at Michigan State University completing her bachelor’s degree in animal science. Her goal is to gain more hands-on experience through managing a dairy or working in dairy consulting before going back to school to pursue academia. Her parents are Jamie and Veronica.

Larson is in her final year at UW-River Falls, earning a bachelor’s degree in dairy science with an agricultural business minor. Larson plans to attend graduate school to receive a master’s degree. She is the daughter of Richard and Sara.

Biese is in his third year at UW-Madison, majoring in dairy science with a certificate in agricultural business management. Biese's goal is to work full-time for a dairy company, while managing his family farm’s calf program. His parents are Ron and Kay.

Gwidt, daughter of David and Dyan, is a junior at UW-Madison majoring in dairy science with a certificate in agricultural business management. Gwidt’s future goals include pursuing a career in the field of reproductive technology, eventually returning to the family farm. • 800.631.3510

The 2020 CentralStar Scholarship application will be available online this spring. Visit scholarship for eligibility requirements and more information.

Unlock the Value

of your milk samples

Milk samples are loaded with information that affects your herd’s profitability. Unlike traditional methods, testing milk samples to gain the same insights for production, health and physiology, eliminates on-farm labor to find, sort and lockup cows, improving cow comfort, while saving time and money. Ask your CentralStar team for the key to unlock the value of your herd’s milk samples.


Finds infected animals, including those most likely to spread disease. High disease prevalence in the U.S. with negative impacts on production, longevity and salvage value.


Genotypes the beta-casein gene in cows for genetic matings to produce homozygous heifers. Stand-alone test that doesn’t require genomic testing.


Use to confirm or refute Neospora infection as cause of mid-gestation abortion outbreaks.

Fat & Protein

Fat and Protein ratios can serve as a valuable early indicator of subclinical Ketosis as well as Sub Acute Ruminal Acidosis. Fat and Protein values give insights into a cow’s true profitability.


Use 28-days post breeding and beyond to confirm pregnancy. As effective as traditional methods.

Mastitis PCR

Identifies up to 16 specific contagious and environmental mastitis causing pathogens for targeted management. More sensitive than culture, results in 48 hours.


Detects infected animals so actions can be taken to avoid further transmission. Prevalent in U.S. dairy herds; negatively affects production, causes chronic diarrhea and death.


Identifies persistently infected (PI) animals for culling to minimize transmission, impact on herd reproductive performance, and likelihood of calf health and growth challenges.


Measures milk quality and identifies subclinical mastitis. Paired with mastitis PCR testing provides insights into the root cause of new and chronic infections for effective management to maximize quality premiums.


Use for cows in the breeding pen to evaluate synchronization, protocol compliance and cyclicity.


Monitors protein utilization during lactation. Unbalanced rations decrease feed efficiency, increase feed costs, and lower milk production.


The affect of Net Herd Replacement Cost on profitability T

he last couple of years have brought their own unique set of challenges. Cow values for both dairy sales and cull cows have dropped considerably, and in some cases the market has been non-existent. As a result, if you have maintained your herd’s turnover rate, you have actually increased your net herd replacement cost (NHRC), chipping away at profits. NHRC is defined as the number of cows removed from the herd (culls, died, dairy sales) multiplied by their replacement value, minus the salvage value of cull cows and dairy sales, divided by the amount of energycorrected milk shipped during this period. NHRC has an inverse relationship to profits, so as NHRC increases, profits decrease, or when it stays the same and milk price is lower, profits decrease. The most important ways to improve NHRC is to improve energy-corrected milk per cow and reduce herd turnover rate as low as possible (no greater than 35 percent). Following this strategy enables you to have a greater proportion of older cows (≥ 3 lactation) in the herd. This is important because older cows produce 25 percent more milk when compared to first lactation animals and 15 percent more than those in their second lactation. The younger a cow is culled, the fewer

Projected 305-Day Energy-Corrected Milk by Lactation 32,653



Lactation Groups

productive days she has to cover rearing expenses and contribute to profitability. That said, here are four key animal husbandry practices that can increase the number of older cows in the herd. 1. Manage somatic cell count (SCC). High cell counts negatively affect production, reproduction and the ability of the cow to stay in the herd. Know which cows have an individual SCC of 200,000 or higher. This allows you to identify and treat infections before milk production is influenced. Providing milk quality training for your workforce is equally important. 2. Focus on fresh cow health. Health challenges reduce reproductive and production performance and when they are at their worst can cause death.

Focus on practices that optimize cow comfort and feed intake after calving; maintain rumen health and prevent subclinical milk fever. 3. Raise genetically superior heifers for your herd. The influence of genetics on milk production, fertility and longevity is well understood. Selection indexes such as Net Merit Dollars (NM$), Dairy Profit Wellness (DWP$®) and Cheese Merit (CM$), combined with genomic information allows you to make balanced, profitable genetic selections. Knowing the number of replacement heifers you need, from genetics that are most profitable to your operation accelerates your herd’s genetic progress while minimizing replacement costs. 4. Maintain good reproductive performance. Herds with older cows that have sound reproductive performance have several similarities including lower SCC, good cow comfort and heat abatement, adequate body condition, and ideal bunk space per cow (minimum of 24 inches/per cow). All these factors drive good conception. In addition, these herds are aggressive with pregnancy diagnosis, as well as a sound program to re-inseminate open cows in a timely manner.

Tools you might be interested in to improve NHRC 1. SCC HotSheet

2. BioFresh® Bolus

3. Genetic Audit

Quickly identifies high SCC cows for management actions to assist with milk premiums. FREE through CentralStar DHI.

Supplies vitamins and minerals to supplement a cow's variable intake. Aids in immune function. Reduces opportunity for and expenses of fresh cow ailments.

Examines your herd's genetic levels and replacement needs. Ensures you buy genetics to achieve your goals and raise only the animals you need.

6 • 800.631.3510

4. CowManager

Detects every cows' fertility status, including when a cow is not cycling or needs to be re-inseminated. Improves reproduction program and profits.


need to know facts to battle mycotoxins

Reducing NHRC is a key driver to improving your herd’s profit margins and production potential. The study done by Compeer Financial and Zoetis showed the most profitable dairy herds had a NHRC of $0.91/ cwt, while the bottom one-third was $1.99/ cwt. If you would like help with this metric, contact me or talk to your CentralStar team.

Calculating Net Herd Replacement Costs

FOR Example

• If a 1,000 cow herd annually has 300 cull cows with a mortality rate of 60 cows at a value of $850 per cull/dairy sale, the herd would realize income of $204,000 (240 x $850).


Four out of five feed samples submitted for testing are affected by mycotoxins that disturb dairy cattle performance.*



Not all mycotoxin feed tests are created equal. Along with using different types of technology (ELISA, liquid chromatography/tandem mass spectroscopy, etc); there is also a difference in the number of toxins a test detects.


• If replacement cost is $1,800, the herd's replacement cost would be $540,000 (300 x $1,800). • Total replacement cost would be $336,000 ($540,000 - $204,000). • If the herd sold 30 million pounds of energy-corrected milk the NHRC would be $1.12/cwt. Alternatively, when cull/dairy sales improve to $1,000, cow income improves to $240,000. • Total replacement costs would be $300,000 ($540,000 - $240,000). • If you divide that by the same 30 million pounds of energy-corrected milk your NHRC would reduce to $1.00/cwt.

Julie Ainsworth, Coordinator Dairy Production Analysis, CentralStar Contact Julie:

Feed is seldom affected by only one mycotoxin. When conditions are favorable for one mycotoxinproducing mold to become elevated and infect a feedstuff, chances are high more mycotoxin-producing molds may be present.

Feeding a binder to protect against mycotoxins is too narrow of an approach. Binders are designed to address issues of one particular toxin, and feed is seldom affected by only one mycotoxin.


Broad-spectrum mycotoxin control is the most effective approach, going beyond single toxin coverage. Select DTX™ with L-form bacteria is a trusted broad-spectrum mycotoxin control. It doesn't bind to mycotoxins, instead it inhibits and limits mycotoxin absorption by activating a natural system within the cow. Its low-inclusion rate of one-half ounce per head per day makes it more economical than double and triple dosing with a binder. Available exclusively through CentralStar, feed testing is performed by Activation Laboratories providing technologically advanced mycotoxin analyses for numerous toxins. This testing is included at no additional cost as part of the DTX solution. Before starting any product, test your feed to know how many mycotoxins are present, and at what levels. Talk to your CentralStar team about routine feed testing at no cost as part of the DTX program. *Source: Agrarian Solutions

Enhancing producer profitability through integrated services.



keeps calves warm, dry and healthy! Buy 4 Get 1 F , REE!

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

Presorted Standard Class U.S. Postage PAID Lansing, MI Permit #505

Woolover protects your genetic investment • 70% wool, 30% polyester • Closed front protects vital organs • Available in Small, Medium, Large • Two styles: original and with rear leg buckle straps Order through your CentralStar team or call 800.631.3510. 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® is a trademark of Select Sires and manufactured by Agrarian Solutions, Middlebury, Indiana.

Know the facts important to battling mycotoxins Feed is seldom affected by only one mycotoxin, rendering the inclusion of clay products futile. Broad-spectrum mycotoxin control goes beyond single toxin coverage. Test to know which mycotoxins are present, and at what levels. Ask about routine feed testing which is part of the Select DTX™ mycotoxin control program.

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Leverage technology to impact your bottom line

Test milk samples to gain the same insights as traditional methods

What starts as small improvements in conception and heat detection blossom into impacting every facet of your dairy, which positively impacts your bottom line. Learn first hand the impact electronic activity monitoring can have on your herd by trying CowManager for 90 days. Get the details at

Enroll for next level genetic gains A membership-based program, NxGEN™ gives you early access to elite sires, that can drive genetic progress like never before. Learn more at

Testing milk samples to gain insights for production, health and physiology, eliminates labor to find, sort and lockup cows, improving cow comfort, while saving time and money. Submit samples through CentralStar DHI or direct to the laboratories. Get the details at

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The POINT Customer Newsletter - January 2020  

The POINT Customer Newsletter - January 2020