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ED ITION U .S. V O LU M E 3 N O 2 APR IL 2011




Metabolic disorders and Transitioning the farm from one mastitis impact reproduction generation to the next CMUS02_cover 2


How breeding affects overall hoof health quality 14-04-2011 14:44:23

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4 9 27 31 34

Cow talk Trouw Nutrition news CRV breeding information Vet practice: reproduction programs Events and contacts FARM REPORT

10 Brown Swiss and Holstein at Hendel Farms FEEDING

12 Health and nutrition EVENT

14 News from Tulare BREEDING

28 Fight the inbreeding trend

Matt Hendel: “Brown Swiss exhibit more natural behavior than Holstein” 10

Karen Bohnert The future of dairy Is it hard for you to be optimistic about the future of dairy? With unsettling milk prices and continual rising input cost—more and more dairy producers are not sure what their dairy situation will be down the road. While nobody can guarantee what tomorrow will bring, I do hope that this issue of CowManagement, that shares other dairy producers’ success stories—will spark some optimism into you—and in your dairy operation. Through their expansions and many years of hard work, Hendels reveal how their dairy has evolved over the years, on page 10. They describe how their dairy operation is now in balanced. Passing the farm onto the next generation is a story in the making at Meadow Vista Dairy in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania. On page 24, the Risser family shares both their knowledge and practice with readers—underlining the key importance of communication by

all parties to make a smooth transfer from one generation to the next. You won’t have to worry about the future of your dairy operation, if you let mastitis become a dominating factor. Research from the University of Idaho explains the impact that metabolic disorders and mastitis plays on fertility and tells how mastitis is the most costly disease on a dairy operation on page 18. The importance of excellent transition cow management aids to success with your milking herd and plays a vital factor in the future of your dairy. On page 20, dairy producers Paul and Barb Liebenstein of Minnesota and the Chittenden Family of New York—openly talk about their pre and post cow protocols and practices that aid to their impressive reproduction stats and overall herd success. We wish you a safe and successful planting season, as well as much success with your future in the dairy industry.

Special Cow health

Series hoof health Genetics

Transferring the family farm




We focus on metabolic disorders and transition cow management.

European hoof health indexes can reduce lameness.

We share ways to transfer the family farm from one generation to the next.


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15-04-2011 16:27:19



World Dairy Expo announces 2011 honorees Award Winners at the 2011 World Dairy Expo’s Recognition Banquet include: Dairymen of the Year – Koepke Farms, Inc., Alan, Jim, David and John Koepke, Oconomowoc, Wisconsin; Dairy Woman of the Year – Donna Myers, Windsor Manor, New Windsor, Maryland; Industry Person of the Year – Dr. H. Duane Norman, Animal Improvement

Programs Laboratory, ARS, USDA, Fulton, Maryland; and International Person of the Year – Anne Perchard, La Ferme Ltd. (The Ansom Jersey Herd) of Great Britain. Award recipients will be honored during World Dairy Expo at a special “Dinner with the Stars” banquet, held on Wednesday, October 5, in the Exhibition

Hall at the Alliant Energy Center in Madison, Wisconsin. Tickets for the event are $30. Reservations are required by Tuesday, September 27. World Dairy Expo runs October 4-8. For more information visit

CoPulsation Milking System While mastitis remains the mostly costly problem in the dairy industry, CoPulsation Milking System is designed to improve teat condition, milk quality and improve production. CoPulsation is an innovative pulsation system that is used in all herd sizes and consists of pulsators, controlling electronics to power the pulsators, shells, liners and splitter tees. CoPulsation addressed the mastitis problem in dairy cows by designing a system that has a pulsation design that provides simultaneous liner action that fully massages the teats eliminating the


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CoPulsation addresses the mastitis problem in dairy cows

milking vacuum during the rest phase. This solution recognizes the fact that it is the combination of pulsation and liner action/design that milks the cows and is responsible for preventing mastitis. Any other options currently offered attempt to address the symptoms and fail to address the root cause of teat destruction. To view comparison videos between the typical dual pulsation and the CoPulsation Milking System, log onto


15-04-2011 16:14:18

Dairy Industry Advisory Committee endorses final report A final report that offers suggestions concerning dairy farm profitability and milk prices was approved to Agricultural Secretary Tom Vilsack by the Dairy Industry Advisory Committee. This vote holds up a report that proposes 23 public policy recommendations. “A tremendous amount of time and effort has been put into this report by members of the Dairy Industry Advisory Committee and I’m appreciative of their efforts and their willingness to dedicate time in support of the dairy industry,” said Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack. The Dairy Industry Advisory Committee was contracted to reassess farm milk

Iowa bill stifles videos by activists The Iowa house endorses a bill that was approved by a 65-27 vote last month, making it illegal for animal rights to generate and dispense secret videos of mistreatment of farm animals. The bill forbids the recordings and penalizes those who take jobs only to gain access to animal to record their treatment. Proposed penalties include up to five years in prison and fines of up to $7,500. While animal rights activist say Iowa would be the first state to support such limits, Florida is also considering similar legislation. Although opponents say it places a freeze on anti-cruelty investigations, supports say it encourages people to report mistreatment through the normal channels. The Humane Society of the United States is critical of the bill. “Iowa’s agribusiness industry has pushed this bill in order to shield their inhumane practices from public scrutiny and stifle open dialogue on animal welfare issues,” says a spokesperson. A Senate committee has approved a companion bill, but floor debate has not been scheduled yet.

price instability and dairy farmer profitability. The committee was requested to make ideas to the Secretary on how USDA can tackle these pertinent issues to meet the industry’s requests— both immediate and long-term. Also, the committee was enquired to give recommendations on how past actions taken by the USDA in 2009 have affected the industry. A written copy can be requested by contacting Solomon Whitfield at Solomon. An electronic version of the report can be obtained by visiting:

Recent raw milk bill being recommended A bill that would allow Wisconsin dairy farmers to sell their unpasteurized milk directly to consumers under certain conditions are being cosponsoring by two Republican state lawmakers. Both Rep. Don Pridemore of Harford and Sen. Glenn Grothman from West Bend began distributing a plan in which producers could sell raw milk if they had a special licenses from the state and if the customer brought their own sanitized container. In addition, the dairy farm would be required to hold a Grade A permit to qualify. Last spring, former Governor Jim Doyle vetoed a similar proposal to allow farmers to sell their raw milk, even if there were certain safeguards in place to protect the public. Although, Governor Scott Walker reported in January that he would likely sign a similar bill. Supporters believe raw milk not only taste better, but contains necessary bacteria that helps fight disease and is more natural. However, others fear that even one instance of bacteria contamination could not only make

people sick, but also create negative publicity on the entire dairy industry. In the meantime, a new organization debuted last month called the Wisconsin Raw Milk Association, which is made up of consumers, dairy producers and other farmers committed to changing the current raw milk laws. This group is currently raising money to help pay for legal costs, lobbying and marketing their efforts. To date, 19 states permit direct sales of raw milk from dairy farmers to individuals.


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15-04-2011 16:14:28



The first bulls with a genomic breeding index in August 2010 re aliz

Genomic selection: fi rs The scores of the first bulls to switch from genomic to daughter-proven breeding values have risen by an average of nine NVI points. Of these 64 bulls, 13 had a change of more than 40 NVI points. 12 bulls are still in the top 16. Both CRV and the Genetic Evaluation of Sires foundation are pleased with the results. text Florus Pellikaan


he first ‘practical’ results of genomic selection have been eagerly awaited by converts and sceptics alike. Based on the past two rounds of indexing, analysis is already possible: in August 2010, for the first time, the GES (Genetic Evaluation of Sires) foundation in the Netherlands calculated breeding values in which genomic data was included. This resulted in, among other things, a new list of young bulls whose breeding values were based on their pedigree index and genomic data. Between August 2010 and December 2010, 64 bulls from this group saw an average of 100 daughters coming into milk and in the December 2010 index run they received an index rating that included daughter information for the first time. The big question is, of course, how do the August genomic breeding values for these bulls compare with the December breeding values with daughter information. Table 1 shows the average breeding values of bulls in August alongside the average values in December. In terms of NVI scores, the 64 bulls averaged 60 points in August and 68.9

Table 1: Average genomic breeding value without daughter information in August 2010 and average breeding value with daughter information in December 2010

all bulls (total 64) genomic breeding value value with daughter info difference

trait nvi kg milk kg protein udder feet & legs total type longevity fertility cell count


60.0 686.3 20.3 102.9 102.0 103.5 148.6 96.5 100.3


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68.9 703.7 22.2 102.2 101.7 103.0 163.7 97.0 100.7


9.0 17.5 1.8 –0.7 –0.3 –0.5 15.1 0.5 0.4

top 25 % per trait (total 16) genomic breeding value value with daughter info difference 122.6 1447.9 35.8 106.5 105.4 107.4 400.4 100.2 105.4

121.6 1482.7 39.2 105.6 104.9 107.1 395.1 100.3 105.5

–1.0 34.8 3.4 –0.9 –0.5 –0.3 –5.4 0.1 0.1


14-04-2011 14:19:33

0 re alized index ratings with their daughter information in December

fi rst results are positive breeding value NVI incl. daughter info in December 2010

250 200 150 100 50 0 –50

–100 –100

–50 0 50 100 150 genomic breeding value for NVI in August 2010



Figure 1: The genomic breeding value for nvi of 64 bulls and their breeding value with daughter information. The closer the point is to the black line, the better the breeding values match

breeding value type incl. daughter info in December 2010

112 110 108 106 104 102 100 98 96 94











breeding value type in August 2010

Figure 2: The genomic breeding value of type of 64 bulls and their breeding value with daughter information. The closer the point is to the line, the better the breeding values match

points in December. Rounded up, this represents a small increase of nine NVI points. In addition, for the traits milk and protein, the bulls scored higher due to inclusion of the daughter information compared with the genomic breeding values. The bulls’ scores for udders and overall conformation fell slightly. A breakdown was also given for the top 25% of the bulls, ranked by their genomic breeding value (16 bulls).

Conservative approach “On average, the breeding values based on daughter information are a good fit with the values we had predicted using genomic data. This applies both to the group as a whole and to the top 16 bulls. And we are very happy with that,” says CRV’s head of breeding Sander de Roos. “We notice that some people still don’t really trust the genomic breeding values. These first


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14-04-2011 14:19:44



analyses are therefore very valuable. All in all, in the NVI breeding value, we have if anything given the bulls a rather low estimated rating based on genomics, but that’s because we deliberately opted for a fairly conservative approach.” The differences between the average breeding values in August and those in December are so small that Sander is not seeking any explanations. “In this case we’re talking about a limited number of bulls that as yet have relatively small numbers of daughters who are all in their first lactation.” The reliability of the NVI breeding value has risen between the two indexing sessions by an average of 13% to a total of more than 76%. “That is still quite limited,” says Sander. “It takes a few years to determine the definitive breeding values of bulls. On average, the breeding values will remain at the same level, but the discrepancies with the genomic breeding value for individual bulls may be somewhat greater.”

Validation studies The initial positive results of genomic selection come as no surprise to Sander. “We carry out validation studies many times a year in which we compare breeding values in the same way, but with much larger numbers of bulls including bulls with daughters who have already gone through several lactations. These current results are consistent with

what we have seen in our validation studies.” The change between the genomic breeding value in August and the daughter information in December for each individual bull is shown for the characteristics NVI and overall conformation in Figures 1 and 2. As the graphs show, it is a small spread. Of the 64 bulls, 10 had an increase of more than 40 NVI points and three dropped more than 40 NVI points. “That is in line with what you might expect with such an increase in reliability. The genomic breeding value is 63% reliable, and then of course absolutely stable genetic values don’t yet exist,” according to Sander. “In the next round of indexing, if a progeny tested bull has a lot of daughters added and rises or falls 20 NVI points, will anybody look twice? It’s the same for the bulls moving from a genomic breeding value to a breeding value with daughter information. If they all fluctuate wildly, then there is something wrong, but these results show that this is not the case.” According to Sander, it is clear from the analysis of the first results of genomic selection exactly what CRV wants to achieve using the technology. “The highest group of bulls, even with daughter information, is still high on average in terms of breeding value. Suppose that in 2006 we had only used bulls who last August had a genomic breeding value of more than 50 NVI; we wouldn’t have missed any good bulls. Of the bulls with a genomic breeding value of less than 50 NVI points, the highest one now has 70 NVI points. In addition, any bull now scoring less than 40 NVI points on the basis of daughter information would not have been used.”

Not included Table 2 lists how many bulls out of the top 25% (sixteen bulls in total) ranked according to their genetic breeding value in August 2010 were still in the top 25% for the breeding value with daughter information in December 2010. For NVI and cell count, the figure was 12, and for overall conformation 13. The top four for overall conformation were exactly the same in August and December, although some bulls had in fact gone up one



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trait nvi total type cell count

number of bulls again in top 16 12 13 12

Table 2: The number of bulls in the top 16 based on genomic breeding values and breeding values with daughter information

or two points for overall conformation. The first Dutch results are distinctly more positive than the initial experiences from New Zealand and the United States. Sander probably has an explanation for this. “In those countries the bull dam information is taken into account. This has resulted in a great deal of overestimation because of the high production records and high conformation scores on the dams’ side. Later, if the bulls have daughters coming into milk, they slump. Even before official publication of the genomic breeding values, we made the decision that we would no longer include bull dam information.” When CRV began using genomic selection in 2008 and announced genomic breeding values for test bulls, this bull dam information was still being used. “At that time it was a logical choice, since the publication of parent averages values for test bulls was generally accepted and this also included bull dam information. When we noticed that it was necessary to remove bull dam information for the sake of unbiasedness of the genomic breeding values, we decided to remove it at once. As a result you saw a sudden one-off drop in bull breeding values.” Sander adds a clear postscript to these first positive results. “Major deviations will certainly occur for individual bulls. That’s why we emphasize the importance of using several genomic bulls. The InSire bulls that are available are around the 200 NVI mark. In a few years’ time it will be apparent that on average they are still around the 200 NVI mark, but one bull will have 150 points and another 250.” “A producer using several bulls therefore runs very little risk. He’ll get a few daughters from an absolute winner and a few from a bull whose score drops a bit. But even then, that bull will still be at the same level as many popular sires.” l


14-04-2011 14:20:00


New Additions to Agri Territory Sales Managers for Eastern Regions Trouw Nutrition hires two new additions to the Agri Territory Sales Managers for the eastern regions of the USA.

Administration. Steve brings a lot of experience and knowledge to the Trouw Nutrition Team.

Getting to know Steve Haye

Heather Hunt is also a new addition to the team. She will be serving ruminantfocused accounts in Wisconsin and Michigan along with select accounts in northern Indiana and Ohio. Heather grew up on a family dairy farm in Ontario, Canada and earned a Masters of Science from the University of Guelph. Her previous background and experiences have taught her how to work with all aspects of the animal agriculture industry – from producers, managers, herdsmen, veterinarians, nutritionists and consultants to distribution. Her career has been within the Dairy and Animal Feed Industries in Canada; business to business, business to producer sales, as well as value added support. As your Trouw Nutrition representative, her goal is to provide innovative solutions that will help grow your

Dr. Steve Haye has recently joined Trouw Nutrition USA in the position of Territory Sales Manager for the Agri Division. He will be responsible for accounts in OH, PA, NY, WV, VA and corporate accounts in SC and NC. Steve grew up in WV and attended West Virginia University and then Virginia Tech where he earned his PhD in animal nutrition. He has a strong background in technical service sales and market development with over 30 years of industry experience and a passion for young animal nutrition and health. He has held positions in technical service for Central Soya, Southern States, BASF and Nutriscience Technologies as well as other sales and management positions. He also has earned his Masters in Business

Getting to know Heather Hunt

Dr. Steve Haye

Heather Hunt

business. Her passion throughout her many years of sales experience is helping her clients solve challenges, enhance business efficiency, and increase profitability. Please feel free to contact Steve Haye at or Heather Hunt at heather.hunt@ Send them an e-mail today to discuss our dairy product lines! They are eager to learn about your needs and to share information about our products and programs. Trouw – Your resource for innovative solutions and people!

For more information on products and services of Trouw Nutrition International: Tel. 800.328.8942.

nal: Tel 123456789. CMUS02_TrouwCompnews 9



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15-04-2011 16:23:17



Hendel Farms At Hendel Farms staff is involved closely in the operational management. Workers are co owners of some animals with high genomics breeding.


Number of cows: 390 Amount of land: 1,000 acres Number of young stock: 400 Breed: Holstein and Brown Swiss

Karl and Matt Hendel

The dairy barn for 390 milking cows


Matt Hendel: “Brown Swiss exhibit more natural behavior than Holstein”

Business in equilibrium Nothing is left to chance on Hendel Farms in Minnesota. Cows receive optimal care and staff are closely involved in the operational management. Matt Hendel: “We have buildings, cows, land and workers geared very well to one another.” text Jaap van der Knaap


couple of Brown Swiss cows put their heads through the gate. The grey-brown heads stand out in the long row of black and white Holstein heads. “We have been milking Brown Swiss cows for 90 years,” says Matt (46) Hendel. Together with his brother Karl (48) he milks in Caledonia, Minnesota, 390 cows including 35 Brown Swiss. “At the time we were expanding our business we bought Holstein cows because they were more readily available. But we continue to milk a number of Brown Swiss; they perform about the same as the Holsteins as far as the butterfat and protein is concerned.” The 365-day production of their Holsteins is 28,000 pounds milk with 3.7% butterfat and 3.0% protein. The Brown Swiss animals produce 22,600 pounds of milk with 4.2% butterfat and 3.3% protein. Matt explains that the Brown Swiss run with the Holsteins, but they never come into the high producing group. “Brown Swiss are closer to nature; they need rations higher in fiber and don’t do well


on rations high in starch and protein.” According to Hendel the fact that Brown Swiss are closer to nature can be seen especially with the calves. “Since last year, we have had automatic milk feeder for the calves. We always had some trouble keeping the Brown Swiss healthy with two feedings a day, but they do better with the automatic feeder. They drink more frequently during the day and are much more active than the Holstein calves. A Brown Swiss just exhibits more natural behavior.”

Student help in the summer In 1992, Hendel Farms were one of the first operations in the region to build a free stall barn. It developed steadily to the current size of 390 cows, a size they have remained at since 2002. “Until 2002, we expanded by 10 percent a year. We used our own capital in order to hold down debt. In addition, we have re-used buildings; we sited the milking parlor in an old barn. We work with six employees and a lot of effort from the


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family,” says Matt. “For a few months in the summer, we milk three times a day with help from high school students. That means that even during the very hot summer months, we can hold the cell count around 100,000, while we are working with cheap, but highly motivated labor.” The Hendel brothers are thrifty in regards to personnel and their farm manager, Josh Vatland, has invested in breeding strong cow families. “Through making your employees part owners of

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15-04-2011 15:39:41

Brown Swiss and Holstein calves in one group

Hendel Durham Mitzi, a popular bull dam

your animals, they are more involved in the business,” Matt believes. So they bought animals from Glen D Haven Oman Biffy and the Juror Faith cow family. Those investments were stimulated because one of their home bred cow families attracted a lot of AI interest. Hendel Durham Mitzi (Durham x Manfred) is registered with ninety points and became a popular bull dam, partly thanks to her Shottle daughters Miami and Mica. Tens of embryo transfer sessions are carried out annually and 30 percent of that, uses genomic bulls. Hendel also invested in animals without Shottle, Oman or Goldwyn blood. “Then perhaps we don’t have the highest genomic breeding values, but we do have animals with a different blood line.

There are more and more calls for these animals.” There is still the question as to why the operation has remained the same size for a number of years. “Land is expensive here, we have 300 acres ourselves and we rent 700 acres. When you are going to milk more cows you have to rent more land as well. The cows, the number of free stalls, the number of employees and land are nicely balanced. We can now give everything the attention it needs. Our business is in equilibrium.”

Special group for old cows Cows are housed in very generously, sand bedded free stalls and the rations are very fresh and balanced. “We want to experiment with more grass in the rations,” according to Matt. “Too much

Loads of sand in the free stall barn

alfalfa makes the ration too hot and too high in protein. It is more difficult to grow grass here because of the winter, but we have sown some acres with 20 percent rye grass. The ration will be more balanced with grass, which is better for cow health and fertility.” There is a special group for 45, old cows. These include a 13 year old Holstein, who has produced a total of 130,000 pounds of milk to date and a 14 year old Brown Swiss. “We make the most of our old cows because we sell a large number of our young cows each year. We notice that old cows need more fiber and like a lot of space. In addition, by keeping them separate we can milk them last because of their risk on higher cell counts.” It is another example of how Hendel Farm’s has an eye for detail. l

Brown Swiss and Holstein together at the dish


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15-04-2011 15:41:10


Sophisticated feeding programs can be improved through the use of a number of “non-medicinal” products or compounds

Health and nutrition – A critical relationship



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14-04-2011 16:14:14

The presence of adequate or inadequate levels of any of the

selenium effects the immune system function.

requirements are often categorized with those of Vitamin E which has a similar antioxidative activity in cellular membranes as that of glutathione peroxidase. Once again, an important role of Se includes support of adequate an immune response.

text Stephen B. Blezinger, Ph.D.,PAS

Decrease fertility

nutrients can have serious effect on the overall health of the dairy cow or calf. Deficiency of elements like copper, zinc and


or years dairy producers, nutritionists, vets and researchers have known that health is directly related to nutrition. The presence of adequate or inadequate levels of any of the nutrients can have serious effect on the overall health of the dairy cow or calf. Similarly health conditions such as disease can likewise affect nutrition, especially the animal’s ability to absorb and/or metabolize many of the nutrients. Over the years the dairy health and nutrition industry has developed an extensive array of pharmaceuticals to aid in combating disease. The animal’s immune response is based to a large degree on the nutritional plane of the animal and the availability of the components needed. Another growing trend is that the dairy industry began utilizing more intensive and sophisticated feeding programs, researchers have found that this process can be improved and aided through the use of a number of “non-medicinal” products or compounds.

Killer cells A great deal of effort has been made to provide adequate or more appropriate levels of specific nutrients to the animal in order to cooperate with the animal’s natural immune response. Examples of these include; zinc, copper, selenium and Vitamin E. Research has shown that these nutrients, when properly supplemented, can enhance a cow’s immunity against diseases, such as mastitis, by increasing resistance to infections and by decreasing severity of infections when they do occur. Zinc is essential to all animals and plays significant roles in metabolism. Zinc functions in enzyme systems and is involved in metabolism of nucleic acids,

protein synthesis and carbohydrates. One series of studies reported a need for Zn for mobilization of Vitamin A from the liver. Zinc is found in all body tissues which are high in protein or calcified material. Early effects of Zn deficiency include reduced feed intake, reduced growth rate and feed efficiency followed by skin disorders. This relationship is also noted in the body’s ability to produce the necessary “killer cells” which the animal’s immune system uses to fight off infection. Zinc deficiencies have resulted in a decreased ability by the animal to produce these various immune system components. Providing appropriate Zn-levels, especially in a highly available form has been shown to counteract these effects and improve immune system function.

Importance of trace elements Similarly, a large number of disorders are attributed to deficiency of Cu in cattle. Symptoms including anemia, severe diarrhea, depressed growth, hair color change and weak, fragile bones are only a few of the characteristic signs of a clinical depressed Cu status. Likewise, deficiencies in copper have been shown to reduce the effectiveness of the immune system. On the other hand, Jersey herds can be very sensitive to overfeeding of supplemental Cu. One of the primary metabolic requirements for selenium is for the production of glutathione peroxidase, a Se containing enzyme necessary for the prevention of oxidative damage of cellular and subcellular membranes, i.e. an antioxidant. The enzyme apparently attacks and destroys peroxides before they can damage the membranes. A Se deficiency reduces the amount of active enzyme, allowing greater amounts of peroxides to go unchecked. Selenium

Selenium and Vitamin E appear to be closely tied together. One study by Ohio State University researchers has shown that supplementation with vitamin E decreases mastitis, and selenium decreases the duration of these infections. Combining selenium and vitamin E supplements appear to result in the greatest increase in defense against mastitis. Deficiencies of vitamin E and selenium also have been found to increase the incidence of retained placenta. Selenium deficiency alone can increase the incidence of embryonic death and uterine infections and can decrease fertility.

Yeast benficial to rumen health The use of feed additives containing live microorganisms and/or their metabolites (compounds they produce as waste) to improve the efficiency of production in cattle has increased, to a large degree, as a response to consumer demand for more “natural” growth-promoting or efficiency enhancing substances. Yeast products, direct fed microbials (DFM), probiotics and other terms are used to identify a host of products that are based on populations of microbial organisms (yeasts, bacteria or fungi, etc.) which are thought to have a beneficial role in the rumen or lower digestive tract. Subsequently the use of these materials has shown or is believed to have shown benefit by improving the digestion of various nutrients, especially forages in the bovine digestive system. Subsequent improvements in animal health have also been noted. A lot of research is still needed as to how these compounds actually function and what the overall mode of action really is. The intervening results, however, have been good enough that producers and researchers alike will continue to evaluate their benefits. l


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14-04-2011 16:14:22



Cow health takes center stage at national ag industry show

What’s new in dairy business A variety of dairy industry tools and products were showcased during the World Ag Expo in Tulare, California. Below are a few items that grasped our attention.

CASE ‘Alpha’ series skid steers with improved visibilty CASE launches their new ‘alpha’ series skid steers. More than 70 attachments are available to take on farming jobs. A front-rear weight distribution of 30/70 and a longer wheel base keeps center of gravity from moving when loader arms are raised. The new cabs are 25 percent wider, the largest in the industry. The sealed cab improves visibility, comfort and climate control for the operator. They feature an ultra-narrow wire side screen design that has been improved to provide 360-degree visibility. In addition to comfort and durability, a tilt-forward cab makes accessibility easier for maintenance points.

Stay dry and sanitary with thumb-hole sleeves and milking jacket Dairymen can now be dry and more sanitary when milking cattle with the thumb-hole sleeves and milking jackets provided by Udder Tech, Inc. The clothing equipped with a hole for your thumb most commonly worn with a pair of nitrile gloves will prevent water from entering into

sleeves and onto wrists. Jackets available in the full or half zip style are also offered with a mesh back option for air circulation and a detachable hood. These products are presented in black and blue colors made from nylon, which is a strong waterproof fabric.

Maintain and restore uterine environment UterFlush from Van Beek Natural Science offers a more natural and antibiotic free approach to reaching uterine health. The product uses essential oils to help maintain and restore the healthy uterine environment which ensures cow reproductive stability and milk production levels post-calving. The



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active compound used has been shown to be more effective against all varieties of bacteria versus antibiotic treatments. UterFlush can be administered as early as three to six hours post-calving or after the cervix has contracted. This product leaves no drug residue so milk withholding is not considered necessary.


14-04-2011 14:01:03

Fritch’s forage facer reduces dry matter loss The Fritch Equipment Corporation has designed a time saving tool for removing forage from bunker silos and silage bags. Available in various sizes, it is adjusts to fit any loader made available. Different widths available are six, eight and ten feet on a bucket mount or boom system reaching out to 14 feet to match the needs of the user. A heavily reinforced bolt-on side frame and hardened steel teeth promotes durability with no jumping motions.

The machine removes feed from the bunker face with smooth precision but with an aggressive approach due to its direct drive hydraulic wheel motors, no chains. It’s possible to reach up to the top of a 30 foot silage pile with the extended boom. The product dissolves feed waste by developing a relatively low exposure to oxygen, reducing dry matter loss. Particle size is not reduced, but the elimination of silage chunks are made easier with the forage facer.

Step ahead of foot problems Intracare North America Intra HoofSol Gel is an efficient tool for the treatment of individual animals. The gel is known for its strong adhesive ability and continues to heal days after application. The gel ingredients like Aloe Vera, minerals and bonding agents ensure hoof restoration for optimum condition. Intra Hoof-Sol Liquid is great for individual and whole herd treatments of cattle with hoof problems. Large numbers of cattle can be treated

quickly by using the Matabi Low Pressure Applicator, a compressed air sprayer. A 20 percent solution should be applied to cattle with slight hoof issues or for prevention purposes. Intra Hoof-Sol Bath Solution works best conjoined with the Intra Bath, a foot bath composed of three separate parts that are easy to assemble. The bath solution is less likely to become contaminated by manure due to the middle grill feature allowing waste to drop through to the ground.

Free standing pen system promotes cost-effective calf care Calf-Tel of Hampel Animal Care has created the first free standing, modular pen system of its kind. The Calf-Tel Pen System does not require permanent installation and is easy to set up, expand and allows back-to-back and side-to-side configuration. The steel reinforced frame prevents sagging and is nearly indestructible. Fully adjustable bucket height and rear ventilation allows for calf

comfort. The lightweight, easy to sanitize polymer material does not absorb foreign matter and promotes calf health by decreasing bacterial growth. The system’s dividers and solid side panels keeps calves isolated while separated feed buckets advocate feed dryness. Pens prove to be hardy and encourage employees to be more thorough with calf care due to easier accessibility.


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14-04-2011 16:17:36

How will you meet 400,000? Milk wetted, damaged teats are caused by the lack of a proper rest phase. The pulsation and liner pinching action of your milking systems causes that damage and creates a reverse milking action causing mastitis and high SCC.

CoPulsationtm provides the only full teat length gentle massage action proven to significantly reduce mastitis. Call for more information and request a video.

CoPulsationtm Milking System 607-849-3880

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Heat That Can’t Be Ignored The luteolytic action of Estrumate can be utilized to manipulate the estrous cycle to better fit certain management practices, terminate pregnancies resulting from mismatings, and to treat certain conditions associated with prolonged luteal function. Cloprostenol sodium, the active ingredient in Estrumate, is the only prostaglandin approved for controlled breeding in lactating dairy cows. Ask your veterinarian about Estrumate today. At 50 and 100 times the recommended dose, mild side effects may be detected in some cattle; these include increased uneasiness, slight frothing, and milk let-down. For complete information on use, withdrawal period, contraindication, adverse reactions, refer to product package insert on adjacent page.

556 Morris Avenue • Summit, NJ 07901 • • 800-521-5767 • 4/11 BV-EST-42598 Estrumate is property of Intervet International B.V. or affiliated companies or licensors and is protected by copyrights, trademark and other intellectual property laws. Copyright ©2011 Intervet International B.V. All rights reserved.


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Metabolic disorders and mastitis impact reproduction. Page 18 Transition cow management leads to overall herd success. Page 20

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Disease prevention key to maximizing production and performance

Metabolic disorders and mastitis impact reproduction Optimizing reproductive performance is a challenging task. The effects of diseases like dystocia, retained placenta and ovarian cysts on future reproductive performance are well documented. More recently, metabolic disorders and mastitis have been analyzed to reveal their impact on fertility. text Amy Ryan


etabolic disorders and mastitis can dramatically impact a dairy’s bottom line. In fact, studies have shown that on average the direct effects of milk fever, ketosis, displaced abomasums and mastitis (treatment costs, milk loss, etc.) can cost anywhere from $180 to $220 per cow, per case. Along with the direct costs of these diseases comes their indirect impact on cow reproductive health and the costs of those impacts. Dr. Amin Ahmadzadeh, Professor of Dairy Science at the University of Idaho, and Dr. Joseph Dalton, Dairy Specialist with University of Idaho Extension, have been involved in research investigating the effects of disease on dairy cattle reproduction.

Metabolic diseases reduce PR In general, Ahmadzadeh states that milk fever has a moderate impact on reproduction. “The risk of infertility in cows with milk fever is higher, with healthy cows being 2 to 2.5 more times more likely to become pregnant than those exhibiting milk fever,” he states. He attributes this decrease in fertility to the impact of milk fever on overall cow health. In theory, milk fever



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alters uterine muscle function, slows involution of the uterus and reduces blood for the ovaries. He continues, “Cows with milk fever are three to four times more susceptible to dystocia and retained placentas, two to four times more susceptible to a displaced abomasum (DA) and eight times more likely to develop mastitis than healthy cows.” When evaluating the impact of ketosis on reproductive health, Ahmadzedah says that the risk of ketosis in cows with a DA is 50 times that of a healthy cow. Furthermore, research has shown that cows with elevated beta-hydroxybutyrate (BHBA) levels, indicative of ketosis and sub-clinical ketosis, during the first and second week after calving are 50 percent less likely to become pregnant after first insemination. “Ketosis decreases the motility of the GI tract, which in turn decreases overall dry matter intake and calcium absorption,” says Ahmadzadeh. “All of these changes generate a negative energy balance and increased BHBA (a hallmark of ketosis) which may lead to lower pregnancy rate at first service.”

and possible involuntary culling can cost up to $220 per cow per case. These direct costs make mastitis the most costly disease on a dairy operation. The indirect costs associated with mastitis, mainly due to its impact on reproductive health, compound those costs. The infection and inflammation resulting from mastitis causes multiple reactions that negatively impact reproduction. “The immune response due to inflammation affects gonadotropin releasing hormone and decreases

Mastitis costs over $220/case As mentioned above, the direct costs of mastitis, namely reduced milk production, treatment, discarded milk


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The compound effect Amin Ahmadzadeh

progesterone, causing embryonic loss,” Ahmadzadeh states. “Mastitis also increases PGF2α, nitric oxide, cortisol and fever which all negatively impact maturation of the oocyte, fertilization and embryo development.” Thus, the reproductive complications from mastitis result in an overall decrease in pregnancy rate, increased services per conception, longer days to first service and higher risk of embryo

While there have been studies dedicated to the impact of mastitis on reproduction, none have focused on the collaborative effect of mastitis and other diseases. For this reason, Ahmadzedeh worked on a project in Idaho to uncover these results. The other diseases included in this research where diagnosed by the herd veterinarian and included ovarian cysts, retained placenta, left DA, ketosis, milk fever and metritis. The 967 lactating Holsteins were categorized into four groups; clinical mastitis and other diseases (MD); clinical mastitis only (M);

Mastitis is the most costly disease on a dairy operation

MD predicted proportion nonpregnant (%)

loss, especially when mastitis occurs between first AI and pregnancy confirmation. Research has shown that the costs of reproductive inefficiency are as follows: $2-3/day/cow that remain open past 110 days, 60-90/cow/year for cows open longer than 140 days and $1820/cow for every one percent decrease in pregnancy rate.

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98 119 140 161 182 203 days in milk


Figure 1 – Nonpregnancy rates for four groups of cows with different diseases that remained open from 56 to 224 days postpartum: clinical mastitis and other diseases (MD); clinical mastitis only (M); diseases only (D) and no mastitis or diseases (H)

diseases only (D) and no mastitis or diseases (H). After evaluation for days open (DO), days to first service (DFS) and services per conception (SPC), a regression tool was used to depict the effects of these various factors on cows that remained open from 56 days to over 224 days in milk. The findings are presented in Figure 1. “Overall, our results reiterated that cows with mastitis have a lower pregnancy rate, are open longer than healthy cows and are open longer than 220 days,” reports Ahmadzedeh. “Cows with both mastitis and diseases have even longer days open and proportion of open cows by 220 days in milk is even greater than cows with mastitis alone. Hence the cows with mastitis alone or with mastitis and disease are at a greater risk of being culled compared with healthy herdmates.”

Manage during transition With the reproductive impacts of diseases and mastitis more clearly defined, Ahmadzedeh recommends that producers focus efforts on preventing these costly culprits in their herd. In order to minimize metabolic disorders, he stresses transition management, and more specifically, eliminating any factors that limit dry matter intake before and after calving. Finally, he suggests a goal of zero tolerance for mastitis, but specifically, that producers be aware of mastitis problems in their herd. l


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Optimizing transition cow success

Transition cow management leads to overall herd success Many dairy producers goal is to get their cows to milk as much as possible and remain healthy. Superb transition cow management allows producers to help reach their goals – by limiting future reproduction problems facing fresh cows, allowing these females to take off and excel with production and easily breed back. text Karen Bohnert


n this story, two dairy producers, in two different parts of the country – The Chittenden Family, Dutch Hollow Farm in Schodack Landing, New York and Paul and Barb

Liebenstein, Wolf Creek Dairy, Dundas, Minnesota – share their transition cow protocols and management with readers. Dutch Hollow Farm is a family owned

Wolf Creek temps all cows starting at three days fresh



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Alan, Paul and Brian Chittenden of Dutch Hollow Farms in Schodack Landing, New York

Wolf Creek averages 1 ¼ stall per cows, and their barn is bedded with sand


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LLC made up of Paul, Melanie, Brian, Alan and Nathan Chittenden. The registered Jersey herd consists of 550 milking.. The entire Chittenden family maintains a successful marketing program of breeding stock and young sires bound for AI. Dutch Hollow pre-fresh cows are housed in a separate dry cow facility. “The barn is designed with free-stalls, a bedded pack and some individual calving pens,” says Paul. “The free-stalls are a bit roomier that those in the milking barn that have mattresses and are bedded with sawdust.” The pack area is bedded with straw on a sawdust base and is cleaned weekly. Likewise, calving pens are bedded like the pack, but are generally cleaned after every calving. Post fresh cows are housed in free-stalls, where there is a bedded pack available for older cows or cows that are concern to staff. Average production levels for the first 40 days of lactation are 63 pounds for first lactation animals, 73 pounds for second and 75 for third plus lactation, with average peaks of 71, 81 and 89 for those respective lactation levels in Dutch Hollow’s Jersey herd. “We have no particular problems on

our farm,” says Alan. “Just face the same challenges that everyone else faces.” Any of their repro problems generally shows up within the first two weeks. Dutch Hollow calves on average 10-12 calves a week. “We try not to calve too heavily in the dead of winter, zero temperature offers a challenge for babies as well as first calvers with excess edema in their teats,” says Paul.

Dutch Hollow Repro Stats Close attention from Alan and his herd assistant; keep repro problems at a minimum. “Any cows that have retained receive daily doses of penicillin, along with a dose of lutalyse,” says Paul. Excenell and lutalyse are used as follow up if metritis develops. “A digital thermometer is a valuable tool, also.” Chittendens do most of their own herd checks and believe that close follow up on any cows that might have had problems usually prevents any surprises when it comes time to breed. Dutch Hollow’s repro stats speak for themselves. Retained placentas run 3% and usually are related to twins, early calving or some type of problem at calving. Likewise, milk fever affects

3-4% of the milk herd, and seldom occurs in first or second lactation animals. “All cows third lactation or more get a tube of Fresh Charger Gel at first milking,” says Alan. “If follow up is required, cows receive a CMPK tube or an IV of calcium is used.” Ketosis runs about 6-7%, and usually hits cows that are being treated for other situation or cows that may have been on the line when they were moved from the fresh group. DA’s, like ketotis, are usually the result of other situations and run 3-4%. Problems as a result of fatty liver are basically zero. Their target is to move cows into prefresh groups between 10-12 days, but room on their pack sometimes is the determining factor. “Mature cows get preference over 2-year-olds, a cow carrying twins or a cow with more will to milk may get the nod over one that may be due sooner.” Dutch Hollow put a new parlor in six years ago, which included the Afikim system. This allows them to track cow activity, as well as production level at each milking. “It’s another valuable tool to help us monitor the progress of fresh cows,” says Paul. “There is really no substitute for good cow sense, some

Average production levels at Dutch Hollow for the first 40 days are 63 pounds for first lactation, 73 pounds for second and 75 for third lactation


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of it can be taught, but in some, it’s an inborn gift.” Wolf Creek Dairy started when Paul was 16, with 16 cows and continued to grow to their current size of 500 cows. They also farm 500 acres and have a RHA of 30,000 pounds of milk. Their pre-fresh cows are housed in their dry cow barn, built in 2007, that houses both dry cows and prefresh cows. “We average 1 ¼ stall per cows,” says Barb. The barn is bedded with sand and has fans to keep the cows cool during summer months. After a cow calves in the maternity barn, bedded with straw, she is moved to the milking barn. Wolf Creek milk cows sleep on pasture mats, feed is pushed up 6-8 times a day, barn is scarped 3 times a day and mats are bedded with fresh sawdust daily. They are slightly overcrowded at 1.10%. “Our pre and post cow management has continued to evolve over the years,” says Barb. “One of the best things we have moved to is better monitoring of the cows in the first 14 days post partum.” After a cow calves, her temperature is taken daily, starting at day 3, until she has

been in the barn 14 days. At the first signs of an elevated temperature, she is given a physical exam to determine the cause and then given appropriate therapy. Wolf Creeks’ average milk for cow less than 100 DIM is 97 pounds. “Our most common problems at less than 30 DIM are pneumonia and metritis/RFP’s both coming in at 7%,” says Barb.

Wolf Creek Repro Stats If a cow has RFM or develops metritis, they continue to temp the cow daily and if she has a persistent fever (>103) for more than two days, they treat with penicillin for 6 days or until fever goes away for more than one day. “We will flush cows if they have a strong odor.” Wolf Creek repro stats aid to their overall success. They have 7% retained placentas, < 1% milk fever, 1.5% DA’s and zero sub-clinical ketosis and zero fatty liver. Cows are moved from the dry pen to pre-fresh group three weeks prior to calving. Heifers move from the fresh pen to the heifer pen around 30 DIM, while the cows stay until 80 DIM or until they need room in the pen. Wolf Creek’s pre fresh cows have access to anionic salt and dry cow are fed a

Wolf Creek pre-fresh cows are housed in their dry cow barn



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Paul and Barb Liebenstein and their two daughters, Grace and Mary, own and operate Wolf Creek Dairy in Dundas, Minnesota

lower quality hay and corn silage, while fresh cows have anionic salts taken out and the ration is balanced to support 100 pounds of milk. “We feel that the hard work of our nutritionist, veterinarian and herd management is what helps with success in our fresh cows. Constantly reviewing records help us diagnose problems and keep them from getting out of hand.” l

Wolf Creek’s ration is balanced for a 100 lbs. of milk


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Can Diversity help you?

“I tried Firenze and saw higher pregnancy rates on those breedings, so I bought some more. I’m glad I did because those calves are the healthiest and most aggressive eaters in my barn today.” CRV 2423 American Lane Madison, WI 53704 Toll free: 1-800-400-crv4all Phone: 608-441-3202 Fax: 608-441-3203 E-mail:

125-11 CM USA april.indd 1

Scott Lamb from Jeddo, Michigan

(Diversity is a selection of Holstein bulls with low EFI% offered by CRV. Firenze is one of many bulls from this selection)

15-04-2011 14:58:35


Transferring the family farm

Next generation Who will take over the family farm? How do you go about it? These questions have surely been asked one time or another and in this article, we will talk about ways to transfer the family farm from one generation to the next. text Karen Bohnert


here is no question that transferring a family farm to the next generation can be a challenging task. Legal issues, tax laws and personal differences are some of the many issues families must confront in determining how and when to transfer farm assets and business control. Both Meadow Vista Dairy in Pennsylvania and Frank Friar with the Wisconsin Farm Center shares their experience and expertise. While many dairy farmers are fully aware of the work necessary to plan for a successful transfer and know stories of farm transfers gone awry – they still put

off the conversation to include the next generation and properly transfer the family farm. A lack of planning could result in lasting, emotional division among family members. By planning for an orderly transfer of the farm, all generations can enjoy peace of mind in knowing the future of the farm operation is secure.

somatic cell count of 100,000. This family owned and operated dairy also does their own cropping, manure hauling, heifer raising and reproductive work via ultrasound. They have received much success over the years with Don and Gerald Risser being named Master Farmer in 1987, and Meadow Vista receiving the Pacesetter award in 2009. The farm is owned by four partners: Don, Gerald, Eric and Justin Risser, with both Eric and Justin representing the next generation. There are two other family members, Jason and Jordon, who are employed on the farm. All of the sons (Eric, Justin, Jason and Jordan) have a four year degree. Meadow Vista has been in the family since 1950. In the early 1980’s the farm was a three way partnership between brothers Don, Brian and Gerald, with Gerald buying out his father, Harold’s ownership. In the late 1990’s, Brian opted out of the partnership, thus it became a two way partnership again between Don

Meadow Vista Dairy Meadow Vista Dairy is a 750 cow dairy in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, with a rolling herd average just shy of 30,000 pounds of milk and a 12-month rolling

Justin Risser represents the next generation at Meadow Vista Dairy in Pennsylvania



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and Gerald, until Don’s son, Eric, bought into the partnership in 2000. Justin, Gerald’s son, is the most recent partner, buying in earlier this year. “I came home because I’ve always loved dairying,” says Justin. “My interest was with the cows from the beginning. Justin continues saying he has learned a great deal from his father, who was previously the herdsman before he returned to the dairy after graduating college in 2006. “I really wanted to raise a family on the farm and have the opportunity to teach my children responsibility.”

The next generation Meadow Vista has been setting up their business for transition since their expansion in 2006, when they expanded from 280 cows to the current number of 750 to allow space for more family to join the operation. “I was never expected to return to the farm, but the opportunity was always present,” says Justin. Meadow Vista set up their business structure as

an LLC and LP in 2006 allowing them to separate out the real estate and buildings from the operations of cows and machinery. “It made it easier to buy into the business this way.” When it came to figuring out who would manage what, open communication allowed Meadow Vista to coordinate family members with areas of expertise and interest. For Eric, his niche was crop work and wanted to focus on forage quality and crop management. Justin went to school for herd management and wanted to push the herd to a new level. Both Don and Gerald have backed off with management decisions, allowing the next generation to manage in their respected areas of expertise. “We all know where our strengths are and if a job comes up, we put the job on the person who it best accommodates,” says Justin. As far as income for Meadow Vista, each partner takes a drawl and they turn the farm’s profit back into the business.

Frank Friar

Meadow Vista uses an attorney for their farm business and he draws up contracts and officials documents when a new party enters into the business. “We currently are working on cross life insurance to help us in the event a partner perishes, that the business isn’t stressed to buy out that partner,” says Justin. Although his partnership into Meadow Justin Risser believes one key component to the success of his transition into the family farm has been that the older generation has been able to “let go”


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Vista is still very new, Justin has no regrets. “I didn’t buy in right away and that was good. It allowed me to get settled in with my marriage and family before taking on such a task.” Justin encourages others to do the same, as it allowed him to settle some of his own personal debt, such as college loans, first before taking on additional debt with the farm. Justin believes one key component to the success of his transition into the family farm has been that the older generation has been able to “let go.” “Both my father and uncle have let us run with our ideas and ambitions; if they reined us in, we wouldn’t have the situation we do now.” Justin is grateful that his father has let him take over the herd work, something his father managed for more than 25 years. “I’m sure this wasn’t easy to let go of, but my father realized the need to let go.” Today, both Gerald and Don are involved with the daily chores, but let the younger generation make the management decisions. Justin’s take away message is to talk to your family and start considering the steps you can take to provide for the eventual transfer on your farm. Most importantly of all, begin the discussion today.

Wisconsin Farm Center Producers interested in family transfers can obtain guidance through the Wisconsin Farm Center of the Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection (DATCP). The Farm

Center provides services to Wisconsin farmers and agribusinesses to promote the vitality of the state’s agricultural economy and rural communities. Frank Friar is an Economic Development Consultant for the Farm Center. Friar is one of three people on the Farm Center staff who assists farmers in transitioning the farm from one generation to the next. The Wisconsin Farm Center can help farmers who want to start the transferring process – even if it’s just to begin the conversation. “Sitting down today to begin the conversation of farm transfer is vital,” says Friar. While transferring the family farm is not an easy process, the Farm Center can help producers who are ready to transfer the farm regardless of the reasons why. The Farm Center works with producers to assess their situation, set goals, develop a plan, gather the necessary information, and provide support throughout the transfer process. “Goal setting and planning with others can help the producer make the best decision for their individual circumstances,” adds Friar.

Advice to producers The Farm Center’s first advice to producers seeking to transfer the farm is to get good solid financial information. “Evaluate if the farm is viable and profitable to pass on and if the older generation can afford to retire and have a decent living,” Friar explains. Understanding if the business can add further generations without major

changes to the farm operation or if production units need to be increased is important as well. Second, determine the goals and plans of the retiring generation. “Ask them to see what their future looks like down the road,” says Friar. “Learn if they want to stay on the farm, be involved with the dairy at all, travel, etc.” The Farm Center advises having the same conversation with the younger generation to see what their goals and objectives are and to evaluate if they can buy into the operation. “Mainly the Farm Center does a lot of coaching, interviewing, and profiling to see what both parties want,” says Friar. The Farm Center encourages both generations to work together and to include industry professionals to help with this process. Friar explains, “Often we invite ag extension agents, agriculture instructors, and other community members who can offer insight in this planning before it is too late.” “People in general don’t like to talk about dying,” says Friar. “The risk of dying is not greater or lesser if we talk about it or not. My advice is talk about the future plans and ‘what if’ situations today. It’s easier to have a plan in place and not use it versus needing a plan after something has already happened.” l For more information on the Wisconsin Farm Center call 1-800-942-2474 or visit: or

Friar with the Wisconsin Farm Center advises dairy producers to talk about the future plans and ‘what if’ situations today



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Bauer joins CRV in Wisconsin Dan Bauer, Oconto, WI, joins CRV USA as area sales manager for the Wisconsin area. After traveling the states with US Jersey, his experience will continue to be put to good use connecting the wide array of needs of Wisconsin dairy producers and the solutions from CRV’s vast global portfolio. This new role will require him to grow a sales territory, manage existing distribution networks, while recruiting more and help bridge the gap as Wisconsin dairy producers find their place in a global dairy market. “Dan’s critical thinking ability and wide breadth of experience will

Dan Bauer

be of value to the Wisconsin dairy producer,” stated Gerwin Kerkdijk, managing director, CRV USA. Growing up in Wisconsin, Dan is excited

about the opportunity to return to the state and have the chance to work with Wisconsin dairy producers. He looks forward to becoming more active and involved with the Holstein breed. Also, he will be able to use his Jersey experience gained in his time at US Jersey to help expand CRV’s growing US Jersey portfolio. “I’m most looking forward to not only the challenge, but also the opportunity to contribute to the success of a new and aggressively growing company,” Dan said.

Capture the savings with Diversity sire selection CRV USA debuts the Diversity sire selection, due to launch with the April 2011 index run. As the rate of inbreeding increases in the US Holstein population, CRV has recognized the need to diversify bloodlines while protecting future genetic selection. The Diversity program was created to aid farmers with sire selection, lower inbreeding in their herds and capture the savings associated with the process. Increased inbreeding has shown to have negative effects on production, longevity, fertility and overall cow health as proven through university research completed by Bennett Cassell. Additional time and money losses are incurred by farmers due to treating sick animals and extra breedings. CRV can help farmers improve their herd health and reclaim that time and money lost on inbreeding related issues. “We are cutting to the core of what our customer needs,” stated Gerwin Kerkdijk, managing director at CRV USA. “They need choices that add

ease as they continue to develop their farms, and the Diversity sires play a role with that.” Diversity contains a selection of bulls with an EFI at or below 4.5% to help lower the herd’s inbreeding rate. The EFI or expected future inbreeding rate indicates which sires are outcross compared to a random selection of the population. CRV will have a constant selection of low EFI bulls available for farmers to chose from at all times.

CRV’s access to Holstein breeding programs in the US, Netherlands, Czech Republic, New Zealand and Australia drives the ability to offer the outcross pedigrees on the US population. The Diversity sire selection is a prime example of the benefits to local producers from a global organization. To learn more about CRV or to get in contact with the CRV team member in your area, please visit or give us a call at 1-800-400-crv4all.

Lannon Firenze 10, daughter of Firenze, a sire of the Diversity selection


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Increased genetic selection means a risk of increased inbreeding as superior families are stacked to maximize potential of offspring

Fight the inbreeding trend Blackstar should ring a bell for Holstein breeders around the world. To-Mar Blackstar, holds a prominent place in U.S. Holstein history. During the 1990s, he produced many daughters and sons. As of February 2005, Blackstar held the title of most proven sons in Interbull sire database at 3,596. text Melanie Balinas


tâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s easy enough to see how it happened, when you have a sire that produces good cattle â&#x20AC;&#x201C; why stop using him? An influx of Blackstar sons going to A.I. companies led to genetic gain in the

Holstein population. However, the main concern is with overuse that can lead to increased inbreeding that accumulates within the breed. At the moment, if you were to breed a

cow at random to Blackstar, it could result in offspring with a 7.9 percent inbreeding coefficient according to Dr. Bennet Cassell, researcher at Virginia Tech. That animal is 1.5 percentage points above the negative impact threshold of 6.25 percent. Sorting the Holstein Top 100 TPI list from December 2010, 69 bulls trace back to O Man and 25 more have Shottle on the top or bottom side of the pedigree. Both O Man and Shottle have success similar to Blackstar as sires of sons, but is this lack of diversity among top proven sires another sign contributing to the increased inbreeding trend in U.S. Holsteins? In 2010, the average U.S. Holstein was

Inbreeding of a herd can have a large impact on bottom line



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Hurtgen-Vue Reality-Red has a very low inbreeding co-efficient

5.64 percent inbred and that will steadily increase every year, as reported by the USDA. In addition to that statistic, it has been identified that animal inbreeding coefficients of 6.25 percent and higher will have negative impacts on the health of animals in the herd. Inbreeding coefficients are important because of the effect that it has on cow health. Ultimately, cattle that become too inbred do not survive. “It is a natural means of controlling the population,” stated Kent Weigel, professor of dairy genetics and breeding at the University of WisconsinMadison. By carefully selecting sires and watching pedigrees, that issue can be avoided.

The cow health impact There are many proven negative effects of inbreeding in dairy including decreased production, calving ease and eventually longevity. It has been indicated that above 6.25 percent inbreeding is when impact on cattle health shows. Research conducted at Virginia Tech by Dr. Cassell proved that there could be a $24 loss in net income for each one percent of increased inbreeding per cow. That same inbreeding increase has many more consequences that will have a large impact on herd health and success. On average, increased inbreeding will shorten a cow’s productive life by 13 days, according to Dr. Cassell’s research.

To-Mar Blackstar heavely used in Holstein population

Figure that loss of productive days at 60 pounds of milk a day, and it adds up to be more than 790 pounds of milk per cow. With the average U.S. herd size in the top dairy states being 171 cows, there could be a lost opportunity of almost $23,000 in the milk check over a couple years. In addition to the decreased production, problems develop with breeding and calving. Not only do cows become more difficult to breed, but cows have more problems at calving. Also, the average age of a heifer’s first calving increases and the first calving interval days will increase by one day. Research continues to analyze the effects that inbreeding has on dairy cattle, but the most effect that inbreeding has is on the longevity of a cow and of the impact on the total herd.

Controlling inbreeding The battle the industry faces is to now learn to lower the inbreeding percentage among herds. This can be done from several different angles and just being more aware of the issues related to inbreeding and cow health can make a difference. Genomics, the DNA testing of cattle to evaluate their breeding potential at a younger age, will play a large role in the future of inbreeding. Right now, genomics can help to raise or lower inbreeding, depending on how A.I. companies and farmers use it. It could continue the trend of inbreeding

because it allows for more rapid genetic progress stacked in similar pedigrees. The race to create the superior bulls will come from a select few families with good numbers – like what is happening with the popular O Man and Shottle. Companies are using only the genetically best bulls and sons, which lead to a potential of overuse in the market.

Poor record keeping On the other hand, the use of genomics can help to alleviate inbreeding in the industry. This is possible if A.I. companies use it as a tool to recognize superior genetics outside of the common bloodlines of today. The issues that can be easily addressed by farmers if breeding and sire selection are tracked on the farm with record keeping. “Know your animal ancestry and records. That will have a large affect in helping decrease inbreeding within your herd,” Dr. Kent Weigel, said. This has been the problem among many herds, poor record keeping and a lack of research will result in breeding mistakes that can cost you down the road. “Farmers all over the world have to find a good balance between outcrossing, to help lower inbreeding, and genetic selection, to choose the strongest sires in the breed,” Dr. Weigel commented. “The goal is to get the maximum effect with the minimum amount of inbreeding.” l


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D R .




Dr. Chris Booth with Dairy Doctors Veterinary Services in Wisconsin discusses the key components to developing a successful reproductive program.

Develop a customized reproduction plan and closely monitor results

Reproductive programs I

t is often said that no two dairies farms are alike. This statement can also be made when comparing reproductive programs. Owners and managers have a great deal of diversity when setting goals for reproduction, what types of plan they will implement, and how they will monitor performance. The key to success is designing a plan that is best for your business. There are two major components to consider when developing a reproductive program. The first of these is deciding your voluntary waiting period and how cows will be submitted for their first AI. Many herds use heat detection as a starting point while others use timed AI for all cows. The most critical part of this component is identifying a plan that allows the insemination of all cows by a target days in milk time frame. Up to twenty-five percent of early lactation cows are noncycling and the length of heats in cows producing over 100 pounds of milk can be five hours or less in many cases. For this reason, heat detection alone seldom can provide the results dairies want to achieve for first service AI. Thus, utilizing timed AI programs like pre-synch or double ovsynch for first service have shown increases in first service conception rates of 10-15 percentage points. It also

allows breeding of all cows within a one week period after the voluntary waiting period. The second component of a reproductive program is identifying cows that are open to their AI service and getting them re-bred. Efficient reproductive programs utilize some form of heat detection in this program as it helps shorten the interval between AI services. Visual detection, tail chalking and computer monitoring systems can help fulfill this need. Routine pregnancy exams identify open cows in various stages of their reproductive cycle and abnormal conditions such as cysts and uterine infections. It is crucial to have a specific plan to handle each of these conditions that quickly leads to the next AI service. For example, donâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t simply treat a cystic cow with GnRH and take a â&#x20AC;&#x153;wait and seeâ&#x20AC;? approach if you only have monthly reproductive exams. Giving every cow a prostaglandin shot or starting Ovsynch is not a proper solution either, if cows are not at the correct stage of their cycle to maximize the chances of a successful breeding. Reproductive programs are very complex and require constant monitoring. I encourage you to take time to review your current strategies with your veterinarian, AI technicians, farm staff and other advisors to determine if you are on the path to reproductive success.


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European hoof health indexes can reduce lameness and improve performance

Genetics improve hoof health While there has been much research done on the interaction Series about hoof health Hoof health issues are a common and costly problem in many dairy herds. The last article in this hoof health series will discuss the use of genetics in improving claw health. Part 1: Housing Part 2: Nutrition Part 3: Genetics

of environment and nutrition with hoof health, the impact of genetics, especially in the US, is a bit less defined. However, the Netherlands and Sweden have developed indexes to assist producers in selecting sires to improve hoof health. text Amy Ryan


he Netherlands introduced a hoof health index in April of 2010. According to René van der Linde of CRV, a chief researcher on this project, this hoof health index is based on claw health data recorded by professional claw trimmers from the Farm Relief Services in the Netherlands. “We did a study on genetics of hoof health based on about 70,000 records in about 600 herds,” says van der Linde. “Professional hoof trimmers began collecting data in 2006 during visits evaluating most or all cows in the herd.” The hoof health index was developed from on-farm data to assist producers in breeding dairy cattle that are less susceptible to claw disorders. It combines six common claw health traits, namely sole hemorrhage, digital dermatitis, interdigital dermatitis, sole ulcer, interdigital hyperplasia and white line disease. Each of these traits is weighted based on economic impact. It also includes five conformation traits: rear leg rear view, rear leg side view, foot angle, locomotion and feet and legs. “In our Dutch research, we found correlations up to 0.6 between conformation traits and hoof health



CMUS02_HoofHealthBreeding 32


traits, with locomotion and feet and legs having the highest genetic correlations with hoof health traits,” says René van der Linde. “Other studies reinforced that locomotion and feet and legs have the highest genetic correlations with hoof health traits, while other feet and leg conformation traits in general have lower genetic correlations.”

Swedish claw index Christer Bergsten with the Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences and the Swedish Dairy Association has been very involved in researching and developing the claw health breeding index. Like the Dutch hoof health index, the Swedish claw health breeding index is based on hoof evaluations of Swedish Holsteins and Swedish Red from trained professional foot trimmers. The present hoof recording system was set up in 2000 and it now holds over 1 million records with 270,000 new records generated from 2,500 herds every year. “The claw scores were developed considering the most common claw disorders in Sweden,” says Bergsten. “The severity and economic impact of each claw disease causing lameness has

been weighted in the claw index, with sole ulcer having a higher weight.” The four common claw diseases evaluated for this index are: mild and severe dermatitis (reflecting digital dermatitis); mild and severe heel horn erosion; mild and severe sole hemorrhages (reflecting laminitis related lesions); and mild and severe ulceration of sole (white line or toe). The index also records claw conformation, mild and severe lameness, leg lesions, double sole white line disease, foot rot and corns, even though they do not receive a score and are not included in the index at the present time.

Long term improvement In general, Bergsten states that Swedish research has shown low genetic correlations between claw health and feet and leg conformation traits, higher correlations between claw health and conformation for Swedish Red than for Swedish Holsteins, and that indirect selection for better claw health is not possible by using feet and leg conformation traits alone as predictor. Conformation traits are not included in this claw index, but are still generated and used separately.


15-04-2011 10:35:13

So what does this data mean, and why is it valuable? René van der Linde says that while management is the best tool for short term improvement of hoof health, genetics can play an important role in long term improvement. “Hoof health is for a certain part determined by genetics,” he states. “For example, improvement of one genetic standard deviation for hoof health traits in the Netherlands means about three percent fewer cases of hoof disorders. So, if claw health is included in the breeding program, a substantial decrease of hoof disorders can be obtained on the long term.” Bergsten agrees and adds, “Genetics and breeding is always a long term strategy for health, but it needs to be incorporated with other measures like excellent management, feeding and environment. As the record keeping becomes more objective, the breeding value will automically be higher.”

René van der Linde states that hoof health indexes are good tools to improve hoof health as they use breeding values for claw health traits instead of breeding values of indicator traits. More specifically, using the hoof health index which combines several hoof health traits, will achieve the best results regarding improvement of hoof health. For herds with specific hoof health problems, he suggests focusing on one hoof health trait.

Recording claw lesions Bergsten says the Swedish claw index reduces claw disease and directly adds value through higher production, better condition, better fertility, less labor, less treatment cost and better longevity. Less lameness also leaves more time for other tasks around the dairy. While the Netherlands and Sweden are the only two countries who currently have a hoof health index, Bergsten says

that Denmark and Finland are working with Sweden and Viking Genetics and a common claw index will be published for the first time in May 2011. “For 25 years, we have analyzed indirect traits of lameness and claw diseases such as claw conformation and posture traits in an attempt to improve claw health,” Bergsten says. “So far the most valuable trait in improving overall claw health is, however, the direct method of recording the claw lesions causing lameness in cows from used bulls.” René van der Linde adds that breeding on claw health requires the collection of good data to obtain an Estimated Breeding Value with a reasonable reliability. “The number of cows with observations for claw health per year in the Netherlands is still limited, and thus, the reliability of the EBV of young bulls could be increased by use of conformation data to predict claw health,” he concludes. l

Genetics can play an important role in long term improvement of lameness


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The heart of the dairy operation: the milking parlor Picture: Harrie van Leeuwen

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