Page 1

English translation of the Horizons produced annually for Spanish-speaking U.S. dairy industry professionals.

august 2012

A U G U S T P R O O F R E P O R T | R E P R O D U C T I V E M A N A G E M E N T | P roduct F eatures


Cooperative, Inc. A Subsidiary of Cooperative Resources International

The Power of Genomics

First recognized as high-ranking genomic sires, O-STYLE, MASSEY and FREDDIE now stand as chart-topping daughter-proven sires. See for yourself their elite genetics in the next generation.


MASSEY #2 Lifetime Net Merit


DAUGHTERS OF 1HO09167 #5 Lifetime Net Merit • #5 TPISM

• #1 TPISM


DAUGHTERS OF 1HO08784 #1 Lifetime Net Merit • #4 TPISM

USDA/08-12 HA-USA/08-12

©2012 CRI


Horizons August 2012 Vol. 2/No. 1 English translation of the Horizons produced annually for Spanish-speaking U.S. dairy industry professionals.



k On the Cover: The photo on the cover was taken at Schmidt's Ponderosa in Bonduel, Wisconsin. Genex provides genetics as well as heat detection and breeding services to the dairy.

Address correspondence Cooperative Resources International P.O. Box 469, Shawano, WI 54166 888.333.1783

BOARD OF DIRECTORS Paul Greene, President Berlin, N.Y., 518.658.2419

Duane Nelson, 1st Vice President Winthrop, Minn., 507.647.2540

John Ruedinger, 2nd Vice President Van Dyne, Wis., 920.922.9899

Ronald Totten, Secretary Stafford, N.Y., 585.344.0758

Jacques Couture Westfield, Vt., 802.744.2733

Jim Crocker Valley City, Ohio, 330.483.3709

Jon Wayne Danielson Cadott, Wis., 715.289.3860


Patrick Dugan Casa Grande, Ariz., 520.251.6455

Harlin Hecht Paynesville, Minn., 320.243.4386

Harold House Nokesville, Va., 703.754.9534

Kay Olson-Martz Friendship, Wis., 608.564.7359

Bobby Robertson Tahlequah, Okla., 918.456.2357

Richard Vold Glenwood, Minn., 320.634.4665

Alfred Wanner, Jr. Narvon, Pa., 717.768.8118

HORIZONS STAFF Jenny L. Hanson, Editor, Angie Kringle, Assistant Editor, Andy Graf, Graphic Designer

REPRINTS Material may not be reproduced in any fashion without Cooperative Resources International’s permission.

Cooperative Resources International, their member cooperatives, agents or employees, cannot and do not guarantee the conception rate, quality or productivity to be obtained in connection with the use of their products or recommended techniques. THEY MAKE NO WARRANTIES OF ANY KIND WHATSOEVER EXPRESSED OR IMPLIED WHICH EXTENDS BEYOND THE DESCRIPTION OF THE PRODUCTS AND HEREBY DISCLAIM ALL WARRANTIES OF MERCHANTABILITY AND FITNESS FOR A PARTICULAR PURPOSE. In the unlikely event that any of the products shall be proven to be defective, damages resulting from their use shall be limited to their purchase price.


Get The Inside Scoop!

In The News 6 | Toystory Produces World Record Setting


2 Millionth Unit of Semen

20 | Find, Sort and Compare Bulls & Develop Your Own Customized Bull Index Reproductive Management 8 | Why Am I Not Finding Cows in Heat? 10 | Managing the Estrous Cycle


12 | Strategies for a Successful Heifer Reproduction Program 15 | Measuring the Effectiveness of Reproduction on the Dairy Farm


Product Feature 17 | Genex and DeLaval Join Forces for Better Breeding


| Maintain Appetite and Digestion in Cows and Calves During Times of Stress


Herd Story 21 | Ruedingers Utilize Technology to Increase Farm Profits GenexCooperativeInc

©2012 CRI

Mission Statement: Provide products and services as effectively as possible to maximize the profitability of members and customers worldwide while maintaining a strong cooperative. H O R I Z O N S






Get The Inside Scoop! Traits Included in Lifetime Net Merit H ea


Fat 19%

4 8%

tion Traits 35%

i ts Tra

uc Prod

lth DPR 11%


FL Com


p. 4%

Ranking #2 in the lineup for Lifetime Net Merit (LNM) at +$866 and #1 for TPI at +2478 is 1HO10490 GALAXY %-I. This bull is an all-rounder with +2225 PTA Milk, over 150 pounds combined Fat and Protein, +2.99 PTA Type and +2.28 Udder Composite. He’s got calving ease (6%) and longevity (+6.2) besides.

SCS -10% Protein 16%

Body Si ze

8 New Bulls Over +$700 LNM

Productive Life 22%




Udder Comp. 7%






g Lifetime Net Merit


Newcomer 1HO10497 SAJAC is the lineup’s #1 PTAT bull at +3.70. He lays claim to outstanding udders (+3.12 Udder Composite) and feet and legs (+3.03 Foot & Leg Composite). With top-notch conformation evaluations, +7.2 Production Life and +$776 LNM, SAJAC is sought after as a sire of sons. The +$770 LNM 1HO10601 DYMON has a genomic evaluation that includes a profitable combination of Milk (+1716), conformation (+2.43 PTAT) and longevity (+6.7 Productive Life). According to Genex fertility data, DYMON also touts an excellent GenCheck™ fertility rating. 1HO10602 ACTUAL %-I is accentuated by great conformation, producing daughters with adequate dairy strength and width. He stands over +2.20 for PTAT, Foot & Leg Composite and Udder Composite with several notable linear traits: +3.1 fore udder attachment and +2.8 rear udder height. Health traits are his forte as well, featuring +6.9 Productive Life and 6% Daughter and Sire Calving Ease. ACTUAL packs these excellent genetics into a +$758 LNM package. Backed by a Bowser x Nifty pedigree 1HO10617 SERGIO %-I offers outcross potential combined with super health traits. A +7.2 Productive Life leads to more than seven months of additional productivity out of SERGIO daughters. His +2.0 Daughter Pregnancy Rate (DPR) signifies his daughters are genetically adept at getting bred. His 6% Sire Calving Ease and 5% Daughter Calving Ease indicates he’s an excellent choice for heifer pens and daughters should calve easily too.

©2009 CRI


J Dam of LASZLO: Schultz Shottle Rene CRI-ET, VG-87, VG-MS

1HO10133 RADISSON, one of the industry’s first Sebastian sons, also adds to the list of GENESIS sires in the lineup. He specializes in producing medium-sized cows and fertile daughters that possess great longevity. The +$719 LNM RADISSON earns a place in heifer breeding programs with a 6% Sire Calving Ease. The +$718 LNM bull, 1HO10485 MUSIC MAN %-I (Trigger x Ramos), offers exceptional health traits equating to daughters that both settle well (+2.3 DPR) and last. He’s also a Fat yield improver (+0.20%), making him a +$797 Cheese Merit bull. 

1HO10484 LASZLO is a +$722 LNM sire out of the GENESIS Cooperative Herd. He’s an overall udder improver with notably strong fore udder attachments and good udder height and width. LASZLO’s a health traits specialist featuring a low Somatic Cell Score, longevity (+6.0) and positive daughter fertility.

LNM: #1 1HO08784 FREDDIE %-I, #2 1HO09527 MASSEY, #3 1HO08777 AWESOME, #5 1HO09167 O-STYLE TPI: #1 1HO09527 MASSEY, #4 1HO08784 FREDDIE %-I, #5 1HO09167 O-STYLE, #7 1HO08778 SUPER




©2012 CRI



It’s that time again … when new sire evaluations are released and the latest bulls appear in the Genex lineup. Staying up-to-date on the new information to maintain genetic progress in your herd isn’t impossible. You may just need … the inside scoop.

26 Bulls ≥ +3.0 Sire Conception Rate Use the Genex Fertility Advantage To Your Advantage


enex has led the industry for sire fertility for over a decade giving you the ability to choose high Sire Conception Rate (SCR) bulls that consistently create pregnancies. Remember, SCR is the difference of conception rate of sires expressed as a percent comparison. Evaluations are expressed as deviations from the overall mean; a SCR of 3.5, for example, means the bull is 3.5% above average. 

Jersey Bull Power 4 Sons of Popular Sire Renegade The sire making waves across the industry this sire summary is Renegade, and Genex is now home to three of his promising young sons. Joining 1JE00780 MAYER and 1JE00798 KINGSLEY in the lineup are 1JE00797 FANTOM (Renegade x Dale) and 1JE00788 RENT (Renegade x Action), two new releases with strong PTA Type and JUI™. Both are free of Impuls and Artist bloodlines. FANTOM also brings +0.02% Protein and +0.06% Fat, ideal for producers receiving premiums for components. RENT offers improved fitness performance, evident by his +5.3 Productive Life and +0.8 Daughter Pregnancy Rate. 22 Different Sires Represented in First Generation The lineup continues to grow as a source of diverse pedigrees and maternal lines. With 22 different sires represented in the first generation, there's sure to be a pedigree to 1JE00798 fit the needs of BRAVEHEART each dairy. One J Aspen Grove Braveheart Miracle sire to start with is 1JE00798 BRAVEHEART (Duke x Mor) who just added daughters this proof. BRAVEHEART’s unique pedigree enables him to be used on virtually any cow in the breed. 8 Sires over +4.00 JUI™ If improving udder conformation is a priority, look no further than the Genex lineup. 1JE00793 DIVINE, 1JE00791 DIVIDEND and 1JE00700 LEXICON return with +5.44, +4.90 and +4.79 JUI™ respectively and are joined by new sires 1JE00803 SCORE and 1JE00788 RENT, both over +4.50 JUI™.

©2012 CRI

14 Sires over +5.0 Productive Life The lineup is full of Jersey sires destined to add productive life to your herd! New release 1JE00803 SCORE (Vibrant x Impuls) tops the list at +7.5 Productive Life and doesn’t stop there. His impressive +$682 Cheese Merit, +256 JPI™, extreme +1704 PTA Milk and impressive fitness traits make him a sire that can fit any herd’s breeding goals. 2 Polled Sires 1JE00790 MICKEY-P (Lovabull-P x Legal) joins 1JE00750 CECIL-P as the second bull in the lineup to provide polled genetics. MICKEY-P is out of one of the best first crop Legal daughters, EX-90%, and sires profitability, yield and conformation in addition to the added bonus of naturally hornless offspring. 17 Sires with GenChoice™ If heifer calves are on your mind, the GenChoice lineup for the Jersey breed offers 17 different options! The latest sires available are new releases 501JE00796 CALVIN (Virgil x Gold Medal-P) and 501JE00794 ZAYD (Plus x Abe). CALVIN is a sire with optimum combination of yield (+1407 PTA Milk) and udder conformation (+3.88 JUI™). The industry has already been buzzing about ZAYD, the first son of popular 1JE00711 PLUS, who offers total performance without Impuls in 1JE00654 ALLSTAR his pedigree.  J Trinity’s All Star Melody






new S

1HO07235 Jenny-Lou Mrshl TOYSTORY-ET, a Genex bull recognized by dairy producers around the globe, has reached a level of semen production never before seen in the cattle artificial insemination (A.I.) industry. On May 4, TOYSTORY produced his 2 millionth unit of semen.

Several factors contributed to TOYSTORY’s production success. TOYSTORY has possessed a genetic package desired by dairy producers around the globe. His genetics were first released globally in November 2005. Two million units later, he remains a sellout bull with semen sold across nearly 50 countries.

“When you think about the 1000s upon 1000s of bulls that have entered the A.I. industry and the popularity of many of those bulls, you know TOYSTORY has achieved an incredible feat by producing more units than any bull in A.I.’s 70-year history,” explains Doug Wilson, Genex Chief Operating Officer.

TOYSTORY’s genetics and the high-quality care provided by Genex production division staff also enabled the 11-year-old bull to remain healthy and agile for optimal semen collection.

TOYSTORY, born at Mystic Valley Dairy near Sauk City, Wis., in May 2001, first entered record books in April 2009. At that time, TOYSTORY joined an elite group of bulls throughout the industry that have produced 1 million units of semen. In May 2011, he became the industry’s semen production leader by surpassing the previous world record of 1.767 million units held by the Dutch bull Sunny Boy. Now he has furthered the world record to a remarkable 2 million units.

“TOYSTORY has produced 2 million units, has always been above average in sire fertility and basically remains a sellout bull – even now, six and a half years after his initial debut. He is an incredible story,” remarks Wilson. 

Watch TOYSTORY’s Record-Breaking Achievement on YouTube! Scan the QR code or visit:


“This is an event that might never occur again in history,” observes Wilson. “With the genetic progress possible in the dairy cattle industry today, through new technologies such as bull evaluations based on genomics, it is very possible that no other bull will ever reach the 2 million unit mark.”

CRI Announces Plans to Purchase Mexican A.I. Company


RI and Genex of Shawano, Wis., and Reproducción Animal S.A. de C.V. (RASA) of Tlalnepantla, Mexico, have agreed in principal on the sale of RASA to CRI. Management staff from both organizations are finalizing business plans with an expected transition date of January 1, 2013.



RASA has had a long working relationship with CRI. The organization has been the exclusive distributor of CRI bovine genetics throughout Mexico for the past 40 years. “RASA is a very successful organization. Year after year, they have been among our top distributors,” shares Huub te Plate, CRI Vice President of International Marketing. “We appreciate RASA’s commitment and cooperation over the past four decades and look forward to working alongside our RASA colleagues in this new business relationship.”  6



©2012 CRI

You know how many stalls you need to fill…

Choose to fill them with


best genetics!


501JE00796 CALVIN (VIRGIL X GOLD MEDAL-P) Jersey breeders, look no further than CALVIN. This new addition to the GenChoice lineup offers the sought-after ideal combination of yield and udder conformation.


501JE00794 ZAYD (PLUS X ABE)

This total performance sire has had the industry buzzing about his release. As the first PLUS son and no Impuls in his pedigree, ZAYD offers a unique mating for heifers.

15 more GenChoice™ options! • 1JE00791 DIVIDEND • 1JE00780 MAYER • 1JE00793 DIVINE • 1JE00768 HENDRIX • 1JE00770 DOMINICAN

• 1JE00654 ALLSTAR • 1JE00767 ZEBULON • 1JE00766 MONTEREY • 1JE00787 LOUIS • 1JE00798 BRAVEHEART

• 1JE00759 BRUNO • 1JE00775 KINGSLEY • 1JE00672 GOOSE-PR • 1JE00777 SABINO • 1JE00604 GANNON-PR



Why Am I Not Finding

Cows in Heat? By: Bob Saar // National Account Senior Specialist, Genex


How does body condition loss affect cows showing heat?

First of all, one must determine if the problem exists throughout the entire herd or within a specific subgroup. To do this, analyze the dairy’s computer record system. Specifically, analyze the records for reproduction and events that have happened by lactation or lactation group. Once the group in which the problem exists is determined, one will be better able to find possible causes and solutions, such as the following.

How does the ratio of open to pregnant cows affect cows showing heat?

ne thing I often hear while working with Genex member and customer herds throughout the Northeast is “my cows are not showing heat and conceiving the way they should.” Let’s take a closer look at the issue and address factors affecting animals’ ability to show heat.

How does flooring affect cows showing heat? Slippery floors can be a deterrent to cows exhibiting heats and can also cause injury to animals. Generally concrete is the most common flooring surface in dairy facilities. To make concrete flooring more cow-friendly, one could groove or scabble slippery floors. Caution must be used when using grooving or scabbling floor options, as not to make the surfaces too abrasive on hooves. Another option is to use grooved rubber belting or similar rubber products.

How does lameness affect cows showing heat? Lameness causes stress on an animal. Lameness also tends to cause animals to lie down more and eat less. Obviously, if an animal lies down more, it becomes more difficult to observe signs of heat. And, if an animal eats less, lameness can cause a cow to lose body condition. 8



It is a known fact in the industry that a one point loss in body condition can inhibit an animal’s ability to exhibit heat. Keeping rations adequate to prevent body condition loss are critical. An old saying I have heard and believe has a lot of merit in this situation: “rations need to be balanced adequately to maintain production and reproduction.” Remember a cow is a mother; she needs enough energy to produce milk (feed her calf) before she will want to reproduce again.

The higher the number of pregnant cows in a pen the lower the amount of estrus that is shown; pregnant cows and cows in mid cycle are much less likely to mount cows in or near heat. A possible solution for this issue is to maintain a higher percentage of open cows within the breeding group.

How does transitioning affect cows showing heat? The more metabolic problems an animal has when freshening, the greater probability of anestrus. According to the article, Effect of Disease on Reproduction in Dairy Cows: a Meta‑Analysis, clinical ketosis, dystocia and retained placentas are associated with more days to first service and a lower conception rate at first service (Fourichon, Seegers and Malher, 2002). Overcrowding of transition groups may also lead to more metabolic problems at or after calving. Some recently available data looks at bunk space for overcrowding rather than stall space.

©2012 CRI



How does failure of proper observation for estrus affect cows in heat? Jeffrey S. Stevenson of Kansas State University says, “The greatest limiting factor to successful fertilization is associated with detection of estrus. It is estimated that approximately 50% of heats go undetected on the average dairy farm in the U.S.” (1997). He goes on to state, “There are two important challenges in heat detection. The first is accurately recognizing signs of heat and the second is catching all possible heats in breeding heifers and cows. One might be quite accurate in catching cows in heat, but still have a major heat detection problem because too few heats are observed.” One solution for the issue of failure to properly observe estrus may be to adequately train employees in heat detection technique. In regards to specific timeframes for observing animals for heat, the proper time to observe animals is not while they are eating; instead, for the best results, it should be every employee’s job to make sure they observe animals at all times and properly identify the animals in heat. If herds are housed in stanchion barns, they need to be turned out daily, to conduct proper heat detection.


Sign of Heat Á Standing to be mounted

Secondary Signs of Heat Á Á Á Á Á Á Á Á

Mounting other cows Red, swollen vulva Clear mucous discharge Increased motor activity Roughed up tail head Increased vocalization Chin rubbing Dirty flanks and sides from being mounted by other cows

J The heifer above is displaying a secondary sign of heat, chin rubbing. h Maintaining proper body condition is important. Loss of body condition can inhibit an animal's ability to exhibit heat.

In conclusion, there are many different factors that could cause a producer to say, “My cows are not showing heat and conceiving the way they should.” To overcome the obstacles, a producer needs to drill down through all layers to find the source of the problem - problems that could relate to the cows not showing heat or people not heat detecting correctly. There are also products available to aid in heat detection – such as tail paint, Kamars®, heat detection systems, heat detection workshops and protocol programs – but I suggest not just putting a Band-Aid on an underlying problem. Work with your local resources (veterinarian, Genex consultant, etc.) to determine the problem and fix it from its source.  References k

How does heat stress affect cows in heat? As M.A. Varner of the University of Maryland explains, “The term ‘heat stress’ refers to the stress of hot weather and not the estrous or heat cycle.” He goes on to share how reproductive efficiency is affected by heat stress. “First, cows are harder to detect in estrus and are sometimes classified as anestrus. Second, cows that are bred by artificial insemination have a hard time becoming or staying pregnant. The second problem shows up as low conception rate or high services per conception.” A solution for heat stress is to have a great heat abatement strategy, which may include sprinklers, fans, tunnel ventilated barns, a source of water close to cows exiting the milking parlor, or multiple water sources for cows on pasture. ©2012 CRI

Fourichon, C., H. Seegers, and X. Malher. “Effects of Disease on Reproduction in Dairy Cows.” Theriogenology 53.9 (2002). 1729-59. Stevenson, Jeffrey S. “The question would be are their cows really not showing heat or are we not heat detecting correctly.” 1997. Varner, M. A. “Stress and Reproduction.” Dairy Integrated Reproductive Management. Special thanks to Jerry Bertoldo, DMV, Dairy Specialist, Cornell University Cooperative Extension, Genesee County, N.Y.

A Author Bio: With 35 years of experience in farm management practices with Genex and predecessors, Bob Saar of Perry, N.Y., has an incredible reputation as an on-farm trouble shooting pro. He also demonstrates an exceptional talent for using Dairy Comp 305 and PC Dart to design profit-improving opportunities for Genex members and customers throughout the northeast U.S.






Managing the Estrous Cycle By: James Arati // Support Programs Manager, CRI


aking profits on your dairy depends upon successful breeding. Neither milk nor meat can be produced without pregnant cows. Getting cows pregnant is achieved through reproduction management. In theory, the process is simple: watch cows for heats or set them up to ovulate and breed at the appropriate time. However, managing reproduction is complex and can be frustrating if not done right. We are continuously looking for that magic solution to solve all of our cows’ reproductive problems. Many will agree the magic solution is dependent on how well reproduction is managed. Understanding how the cow’s estrous cycle works is a good starting point to successfully manage reproduction particularly in optimizing the timing of artificial insemination (A.I.). The estrous cycle, also referred to as the heat cycle, is a series of events and hormonal changes that repeat approximately every 21 days (range 18 to 24 days) in non-pregnant cows. The cycle is shown in Figure 1 and a detailed description follows.

The Heat Period The estrous cycle starts on Day 0 when a large fluid-filled blister-like structure on the ovary (called the follicle) creates the hormonal push necessary to initiate estrus, or heat. The follicle contains the egg and produces estrogen, which causes cows to exhibit “estrus behavior” such as: bellowing, secreting cervical mucus, standing to be mounted and the “toning” of the uterus that aids in transportation of semen at the time of insemination. Typically, estrus lasts for 12 hours, but it is common to observe cows in heat for only six to eight hours. Estrogen is also responsible for triggering the release of gonadotropin-releasing hormone (GnRH) from the hypothalamus in the cow's brain. GnRH causes the release of another important hormone, luteinizing hormone (LH) from the pituitary gland.

1 0



Ovulation, Fertilization & Formation of the Corpus Luteum On Day 1, about 32 hours after estrus began, LH will cause the cow’s follicle to ovulate, releasing an egg into the oviduct where it will wait to be fertilized. If sperm are present in the oviduct and fertilization occurs, the fertilized egg (embryo) will remain in the oviduct for three to four days before entering the uterus. Following ovulation, estrogen levels drop, decreasing the hormonal drive for displaying standing estrus behavior. Also after ovulation, an important structure called the corpus luteum (CL) begins to form on the ovary in the place vacated by the follicle. As the CL grows it begins to secrete the hormone progesterone four to five days after heat and reaches mature size and progesterone production nine to 10 days after heat. Progesterone is essential for pregnancy as it prevents the cow from returning to heat and signals the uterus to prepare for a fertilized egg.

Regression of the Corpus Luteum By Day 12, the CL has grown to its maximum diameter. If fertilization occurs and a viable embryo is present in the uterus by Day 18, the CL is maintained and continues producing large amounts of progesterone, which prevents the return of estrus. However, if fertilization does not occur and the uterus fails to detect a growing embryo, the uterine lining will release the hormone prostaglandin (PG). PG will cause regression of the CL, resulting in the rapid decline of progesterone and triggering the development of another follicle. The cow would then enter standing heat again, completing the 21-day cycle. The decrease in progesterone triggers an increase in GnRH. In addition to stimulating the release of LH, GnRH also stimulates the release of follicle stimulating hormone (FSH). FSH acts on the ovary to stimulate rapid growth of another ovulatory follicle. The follicle will secrete estrogen to cause the next heat and ovulation.

©2012 CRI



Dominant Follicle

Figure 1: Estrous cycle h


Egg Dominant Follicle

Dominant follicle produces estrogen which causes physical signs of heat




DAY 20


DAY 1 Early Corpus Luteum (CL)

Regression of CL CL

GnRH directs release of LH causing the release of the egg


Decreased progesterone triggers development of another follicle

If not pregnant, protaglandin causes CL regression

DAY 18

DAY 4-5


DAY 12 DAY 9-10 Maximum diameter of CL.


Mature CL produces progesterone which maintains pregnancy




Now that we understand how the estrous cycle works, we can begin to understand the hormones used on estrus synchronization protocols for dairy cows. These hormones are used to manipulate the heat cycle replacing those ordinarily produced in the bovine estrous cycle in an effort to control precisely when ovulation will occur.

Gonadatropin-Releasing Hormones


The success of manipulating the heat cycle of cattle depends however, on not just the drugs and timing, but healthy animals that are disease-free and on a good nutrition program. Producers need to know how to use the products correctly and must have good facilities to adequately restrain their cattle. If not using any timed A.I method, then excellent heat detection is mandatory. 

Prostaglandins such as Lutalyse, Prostamate or Estrumate work by causing regression of the CL when it is present on the ovary. Prostaglandins only work when the CL is mature. Therefore they will only function during Days 7 to 17 of the heat cycle. Basically, an injection of one of these drugs will put the appropriate cow’s cycle right to Day 18, with destruction of the CL leading to decreases of progesterone levels, an increase in follicular growth and an increase in estrogen production. Heat and subsequent ovulation will occur two to five days after the prostaglandin injection.

Progesterones Progesterone-like compounds, such as MGA (melengestrol acetate) and EAZI-BREED™ CIDR® (controlled intra-vaginal drug releaser) will not allow the follicle to ovulate or the cow to exhibit signs of heat, just as a functional CL during Days 6 to 17 would. ©2012 CRI

GnRH such as Cystorelin, Factrel or Fertagyl causes the release of luteinizing hormone and follicle-stimulating hormone from the anterior pituitary gland. These hormones will stimulate the ovary to grow follicles to produce an egg and stimulate its release from the follicle.

A Author Bio: James Arati has a bachelor's degree in ag business from the University of Wisconsin-River Falls and a master's in ag business from Kansas State University. He has worked as a farm manager and Genex consultant and A.I. technician. Today, he implements employee and producer training programs and assists with the development and education of Genex programs.



1 1



Strategies for a


Heifer Reproduction Program By: Kristi Fiedler // Senior Reproductive Specialist Manager, Genex


oday’s outstanding dairy reproduction programs are creating a new environment for farmers. The traditional mentality has been to raise every heifer because she will be needed as a replacement. Now dairy producers are changing their strategies because of more opportunity to raise the best replacements – they have more heifers than needed to maintain herd size. Raising healthy replacements is still a high priority for dairy farmers, but now they can choose which calves will be the most productive on their farm. This article will summarize strategies commonly used to raise the highest quality heifers in an economical fashion.

Healthy Calves A cow’s or heifer’s transition affects the health and reproductive status of the resulting calf. The dam not only needs to be able to deliver a healthy calf, but also produce quality colostrum to build calf immunity. Newborns need clean high-quality colostrum equal to 10% of their body weight within 8 hours of birth (Leadley, 2009). The Attica Veterinary Associates website,, includes several educational articles on colostrum management. With adequate colostrum, healthy newborn calves will have fewer illnesses, higher growth rates, increased fertility and improved production over their lifetime.

Disease Prevention Preventing disease is essential for successful and profitable reproduction programs as many diseases have a strong impact on reproduction. For example, calves with respiratory disease are twice as likely to leave the herd and first calving will be delayed approximately six months when compared to calves that didn’t experience respiratory infections (Bailey, Murphy, and 1 2



James, 2009). Additionally, calves with scours will calve at 30 months of age or greater (Bailey, Murphy, and James, 2009). According to the Virginia Cooperative Extension website, the key areas of disease prevention management include parasite control; coccidiosis; infectious diseases like Infectious Bovine Rhinotracheitis (IBR), Bovine Viral Diarrhea (BVD), Parainfluenza-3 virus (PI-3) and Bovine Respiratory Syncytial Virus (BRSV); and others such as pinkeye, foot rot and mastitis. The Virginia Cooperative Extension website,, provides good background, explanations and suggestions for vaccination protocols. It is important to note the prevalence of some diseases may vary by region. Seek advice from a local veterinarian or animal health consultant to set up a proper vaccination and treatment protocol.

Growth Rate & Nutrition Ideal growth rates for dairy calves are 1.7 to 2.0 pounds per day (“Dairy Calf & Heifer Association”, 2012). As they grow and mature, calves also need different protein ratios in their feed. Work with a nutritionist and veterinarian on rations that best fit each age group. Table 1 is from a 3,200-cow herd that tracks daily gain on all heifers from birth to post freshening. The data shows the replacements with average daily gain (ADG) greater than 1.71 calved earlier (AvAGEFR = average age at freshening) and produced more milk (Av M305 = 305-day mature equivalent milk production, Av305PR = Actual 305-day milk production). As the ADG from birth to post freshening increased so did milk production in the first lactation.

©2012 CRI


o Table 1.


A dairy herd's comparison of the average 305-day mature equivalent, 305-day actual production and age at freshening for first lactation cows according to their average daily gain. k

Number of Cows Av M305 Av305PR AvAGEFR































By 13-15 months of age, Holstein heifers should weigh 850 to 900 pounds, and possess a hip height of greater than 50 inches and a whither height of 48 inches (“Dairy Calf & Heifer Association”, 2012). According to the American Jersey Association (2012) the target weight for breeding age Jersey heifers should be 55 percent of mature weight. Therefore if mature cows are 1,000 pounds the target breeding weight is 550 pounds.

Breeding A good goal is to breed all heifers within 21 days of the set artificial insemination (A.I.) date. If the herd’s breeding age is 12 months or 365 days, then all heifers should be inseminated by 386 days of age. During this 21-day period, several methods can be used to detect estrus including KAMARs®, tail paint, visual observation, activity monitors or a combination of methods. A common heifer breeding protocol is to inject prostaglandin and utilize a heat detection method the day the heifers are moved to the A.I. pen. Observe and breed heifers displaying estrus activity. Give a second prostaglandin injection 10 to 12 days later to heifers that are not yet inseminated. Heifers not inseminated during the period of giving prostaglandin injections may not be cycling. Two approaches can be taken with this group; enroll them into a five-day CIDR ® synchronization program or have the veterinarian check them for other issues such as freemartins.

Re-enrolling in Breeding Program Pregnancy check all bred heifers 29 to 42 days since last heat through rectal palpation or DG29 blood pregnancy testing. Heifers that are not pregnant should be injected with prostaglandin or enrolled into a five-day CIDR program. Virgin heifer abortion rates average 3%, so it is necessary to follow up with a pregnancy check at 60 to 90 days since last heat to confirm heifers are still carrying a calf. This step is more important for heifers that are first confirmed pregnant less than 32 days since last heat because they are at a higher risk for early embryonic loss. Finally, perform another confirmation pregnancy check at 180 to 200 days carried calf.

©2012 CRI


In today’s high feed cost environment, it is extremely cost effective to calve heifers around 23 months of age. Heifers that calve at greater than 25 months continue to consume feed longer versus returning a profit through milk production. Also, as mentioned previously, they are more likely to have calving issues and leave the herd earlier (Leadley, 2009).

Culling Strategies Over the past five years, the bar has been raised for reproduction management in the dairy industry. It is not uncommon for herds to have a pregnancy rate for cows greater than 25%. The Genex Reproductive Profit Manager™ (RPM™) program benchmark for the average Holstein herd was 16.6% in 2008; in 2011, it increased to 19.7%. Jersey herds went from 20.1% to 21.9% respectively. In 2011, the Jersey RPM benchmark averages 18% sexed semen use in cows and 55% in heifers. The average Holstein herds used 7% in cows and 35% in heifers. The point is dairy herds have improved reproduction performance and implemented sexed semen use, resulting in more replacements than ever before. The Genex RPM benchmark also indicates the average Holstein herd has a 97% replacement rate or 0.97 heifers for every cow in the herd, up from 84% in 2008. The average Jersey herd had a 60% replacement rate in 2008 and now has a 106%, or 1.06 heifers for every cow. Knowing these statistics, the question becomes: does a herd need to raise every replacement? The simple answer to the question is no. A herd does not need to raise every replacement. Taking that into consideration, how does one determine a breeding strategy that will result in the highest dairy profits? Here are some basic steps to follow to develop an appropriate breeding strategy. 1. The first step is to know your herd goals. Are you planning to expand? By how much? Do you still need all your replacements from a previous expansion? Do you want to sell bred heifers? Do you want to cull calves early? Do you want to sell beef crosses? What is your ideal cull rate? 2. Then determine how many replacements are needed each year to achieve herd goals. Calf Math™, available at, is a simple calculator with individual herd inputs that can help you to determine the number of replacements needed annually. The calculator also offers options for breeding strategies. For instance, through Calf Math, a dairy producer may determine if they increase sexed semen usage in heifers by 10%, they would have enough replacements and be able to breed the bottom 10% of their herd to beef semen to take advantage of high beef prices. 3. Next, decide how animals are to be sorted. Today, many options are available to sort herd data, such as herd software programs, dairy herd improvement record processing centers and genomic testing. When sorting animals, remember parent averages are about 45% accurate versus genomic data at nearly 70% reliable.



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M A N A G E M E N T 5. After thinking through the entire process, make a plan. Write down the plan, indicating how everything will be implemented and who will be responsible for each step along the way. Ensure everyone involved knows their role and monitors the results. In summary, the priorities in developing replacement strategies are as follows: • Good dam health and transition • Quality and quantity of colostrum • Disease prevention • Growth rates greater than 1.7 pounds per day • A structured and well-planned breeding program Once these essential priorities are in place, a dairy has more options to raise the highest quality replacements in both health and genetics. 

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An example of how one might sort cows is by the desired traits. For example, sort the cows by those that calve every 13 months, have above average milk production and have low somatic cell scores or few mastitis events.

A 1,200-cow Holstein herd in Wisconsin uses the Genomic Selection Guide from AgSource Cooperative Services to determine the Lifetime Net Merit averages on the milking herd and 6K genomic tests all Holstein heifer calves at birth.

4. One of the most important steps is to decide what to do with the sort information. The strategies can be as simple as culling any calf with more than three health events or culling heifers that are not pregnant after four insemination attempts. Strategies can also be as complicated as genomic testing all animals, selecting the elite few for flushing and transferring their embryos into bottom-end cows.

References k

"Every Jersey Heifer a Quality Heifer." American Jersey Cattle Association. US Jersey, 2012. Web. 2 Apr 2012. < QualityHeiferBrochure.pdf>.

The 1,200-cow herd mentioned previously uses the AgSource Genetic Selection Guide to determine the top and bottom 15% of the cows. Those cows in the top percentages are “cherry picked” to be bred to Holstein sexed semen. Those in the bottom percentiles are bred with Angus semen. The cows bred to Angus bulls remain in the milking herd as long as they calve and produce enough milk to be profitable. The crossbred calves are then sold at a premium price or some are raised as steers on the home farm. With this strategy, the herd maintains a 25% pregnancy rate and still has more replacements than needed. In fact, together with the vet it was decided the herd could cull four additional heifer calves per month. The bottom four calves based on the 6K genomic test results will be culled each month.



Bailey, Tom, Julia Murphy, and Robert James, eds. "Dairy Heifer Health, Disease Control, and Vaccinations." Virginia Cooperative Extension, 01052009. Web. 2 Apr 2012. <>.

"Gold Standards II." Dairy Calf & Heifer Association. n.p., 2012. Web. 2 Apr 2012. <>. Leadley, Sam. "Antibody Absorption." Calf Facts by Sam Leadley. Attica Veterinary Associates, 2011. Web. 2 Apr 2012. < orgid=19&storyTypeID=&sid=&>.

A Author Bio: Kristi Fiedler received her bachelor’s degree in animal science from the University of Wisconsin-Platteville. After college, she joined AgSource Cooperative Services working with milk testing and dairy herd improvement records. In 2007 she joined Genex providing genetic and reproductive consulting throughout northeast Wisconsin, and in 2009 was promoted to the National Account Profit Center. Kristi also holds a master’s degree in management.

©2012 CRI



Measuring the Effectiveness of Reproduction on the Dairy Farm By: Sarah Thorson // Beef Education Manager, CRI


ne of the main driver’s of profitability on any dairy farm is reproduction. A great deal of time, energy and money is spent daily to ensure cows are getting and staying pregnant. But how can a dairy producer be sure his or her efforts are paying off? Careful recordkeeping and planning can help ensure the farm’s reproduction program is working adequately. There are also a few numbers that can be used on a dairy to help measure the effectiveness of a reproduction program.

Service Rate/Heat Detection Rate Service rate is defined as the percent of eligible females that are inseminated during a 21-day period. Heat detection rate is the percent of eligible females that are actually seen or detected in heat. In both cases, eligible females are defined as females that are open and past their voluntary waiting period. The service rate is closely associated with a herd’s heat detection rate, and in cases where a herd uses 100 percent timed artificial insemination (A.I.) they will be equal. Service rate and heat detection rates are important numbers to monitor to ensure a heat detection program is effective and that you are breeding enough cows. Effective heat detection and proper enrollment of eligible females into a timed A.I. program are the first steps in improving reproductive efficiency on the farm. Genex Cooperative, Inc. uses a program called the Reproductive Profit Manager™ (RPM™) to help dairies monitor their reproductive performance. The current RPM database

©2012 CRI

consists of over 576,000 females in over 500 herds. The average service rate of the herds in the RPM database is about 56 percent.

Conception Rate Conception rate is the percent of females that are confirmed pregnant when presented for pregnancy diagnosis. Pregnancy diagnosis can be effectively conducted by ultrasound, palpation or blood test. Conception rate is often the number people feel the most comfortable talking about and one that tends to get a lot of focus. While it is important for a dairy producer to be aware of his or her farm’s current conception rate, it is dangerous to place too much focus on this one single number. Conception rate can easily be influenced by “cherry picking” or being very selective when choosing which females should be bred. This selective choosing of females to inseminate can easily result in a higher conception rate, because only the females that are most likely to conceive are chosen; however, note that this practice usually results in a much lower overall service rate. The end result is that fewer females are inseminated, and fewer overall pregnancies are recorded, meaning it may be difficult to keep the barn and bulk tank full. The current RPM database average for conception rate is 35 percent for cows and 52 percent for heifers.



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Tips and Tricks In evaluating the effectiveness of a herd’s reproduction program it is important to keep in mind the individual herd goals. It is also important to understand how a certain reproduction approach fits the individual dairy. Here are a few key points to consider: First, it is important to consider the labor and monetary requirements of implementing a reproduction program. It doesn’t matter how well a synchronization or heat detection system should work, if it is too labor intensive or costs more money than a dairy producer is willing to spend, the results will not be favorable for the farm.

Pregnancy Rate Pregnancy rate is the percent of eligible females in a herd that conceive every 21 days. The formula for pregnancy rate combines both the herd’s service rate and conception rate. This single number is probably the most important to look at and will give a dairy producer the most accurate overall picture of the effectiveness of his or her dairy’s reproduction program. Most experts agree herds should aim for a pregnancy rate of 20 percent or higher to have the most effective repro program possible. The current RPM database average for pregnancy rate is 19.4 percent for cows and 21.3 percent for heifers.

Second, compliance to synchronization programs and accurate and thorough heat detection can impact whether a farm’s reproduction program succeeds or fails. The farm’s A.I. success rate will be very low if the right cows are not getting the right shots on the right days or if females in heat are being missed or misidentified. Finally, individual animal identification of all females and excellent recordkeeping procedures are extremely important to the success of any reproduction program. A herd’s reproduction program is one of the main drivers of profitability on a dairy. Careful consideration, implementation and monitoring of a herd’s reproduction program will ensure a herd achieves its goals. 

A Author Bio: Sarah Thorson is a graduate of Montana State University. She served as a GENESIS Cooperative Herd intern before accepting a position within CRI's training department. Sarah conducts reproductive and education programs for members, customers and employees.

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©2012 CRI



Genex and DeLaval Join Forces for Better Breeding By: Elizabeth Gibson // Integrated Marketing Specialist, DeLaval


ssential to every dairy operation is a successful breeding program. Applying the right tools and systems to achieve better pregnancy rates can be the difference between an okay program and a profitable one. That’s why Genex and DeLaval are teaming together to help producers maximize the best in heat detection technology and semen consultation. In June, the two companies announced their cooperation, and according to the agreement, Genex representatives will assist in marketing DeLaval Activity Systems, which can detect heat with up to 95 percent accuracy1 – the best on the market! The neck-mounted DeLaval tags report activity data every hour, 24 hours a day, via wireless link to barn-located antennas – making the system completely independent to parlor ID. The data is then transmitted via system controller to a computer database where DeLaval herd management software analyzes each cow’s activity levels – high activity identifies heats and low activity may indicate health issues. The system’s ability to detect estrus early and accurately facilitates timely artificial insemination and helps lower reproduction costs by reducing days open and services per conception. The activity system even detects weak heat signs, the so-called “silent heats.”

A Natural Fit

The cooperation between Genex and DeLaval is a natural fit – both are known for providing innovative solutions to their customers in the dairy industry. “DeLaval brings to the table an automated way to detect heat,” said Patrick Lecavalier, DeLaval East Region Director. “Genex leads the industry in semen fertility and has the nation’s largest employed arm service force. When you put everything together you end up with pregnant cows. By working together, Genex and DeLaval can help customers improve the efficiency of their reproduction programs.” In New York, the two companies have already experienced success working together. Lecavalier and his team trained Genex representatives on how to use the activity system boosting interest in automated heat detection. A dairy producer in Watertown, N.Y., is seeing benefits from combining genetic expertise with on-farm activity data. His Genex representative does all his breeding with the help of the DeLaval Activity System he installed last summer. “The Genex technician is breeding cows on the farm every day and using the activity system to make accurate and timely decisions,” said Jared Yousey, DeLaval Product Specialist, Herd Management & Calf Feeders. “The system is working so well that the farm recently purchased 400 more tags – up from the initial 200 tags at start-up. Scalability is another great benefit of the system.” 

Holtkamp Farms Kerkhoven, Minnesota Genex Farm Systems recently installed a DeLaval Activity System at Holtkamp Farms, owned by Roger Holtkamp and his sons Carl and Michael. The system includes 300 neck transponders – one for each cow and breeding age heifer – along with four antennas to collect activity information. As Carl explained, the activity system compares each cow’s current activity level to that cow’s average activity level. Then, the system is set up to automatically print out a list of high activity cows at 3:30 every morning. Though the system had only been in use for about two months when Horizons staff visited the farm in May, the system had already impacted Holtkamps’ breeding program. “We used to give shots and Ovsynch. Now we don’t give any shots. We just breed off of the activity level,” noted Carl. “I’ve been breeding four to five cows each day, which should spread out the due dates compared to breeding a group of cows off Ovsynch.”

How It Works: 1. The activity meter sends the last 24 hours of data to the antenna every hour 2. The system learns the cow’s activity pattern within 5 days 3. Based on the hourly recorded data of the individual cow, the system’s Kalman Filter – the mathematical method used to analyze measurements observed over time – predicts the activity level for the next recording 4. If the new value deviates from the Kalman’s predicted one, an alarm is given 1. Ref: Annegret Meyer, Auswirkungen der Nutzung der Aktivitätsmessung bei Milchkühen auf die Effektivität der Brunsterkennung, 2003

©2012 CRI

is a registered trademark of Tetra Laval Holdings & Finance S.A . and “DeLaval” is a registered trade/service mark of DeLaval Holding AB.



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Maintain Appetite and Digestion in Cows and Calves

During Times of Stress By: Dr. Dan DuBourdieu // Vets Plus, Inc.


ost – if not all – producers know having cows and calves under stress can rob an operation of profits. These stressors can occur for a variety of reasons, ranging from diseases and injury to normal production events, such as vaccinations or shipping/receiving. During times of stress, it is common for animals to experience loss of appetite. However, the right supplements can help animals better manage stress, resume eating normally and maintain performance.

NuLife® ReBOUND™, available from Genex throughout the U.S., is a new method to aid cows and calves in maintaining appetite and healthy digestion during such times of stress. The use of ReBOUND™ can improve profitability levels of sick or stressed animals and help maintain the wellbeing of currently healthy animals.

How does NuLife® ReBOUND™ work? ReBOUND™ has a quadruple mode of action to help maintain appetite and a healthy digestive system in cows. The ReBOUND™ formula contains a synergistic blend of superior rumen direct fed microbials (DFMs), enzymes, attapulgite clay, kaolin, hydrated sodium calcium alumino silicate and specialized peptide nutritional factors. • Unique DFMs out-compete pathogens for space and nutrients, thus leading to production of B vitamins to help maintain appetite. • Enzymes aid in maintaining fiber digestion and nutrient utilization, thereby facilitating dry matter intake and production. They also assist in sustaining rumen fungi and microflora, which can increase lactic acid utilization and help retain normal rumen pH. • Attapulgite clay, kaolin and hydrated sodium calcium alumino silicate help reduce the harmful effects of toxins, when they appear. • Specialized peptide nutritional factors help maintain beneficial microflora growth, while allowing animals to achieve normal health status. When dry matter intake is maintained during periods of stress, sick animals get back on feed sooner and healthy animals stay healthy through better feed utilization and natural immunity.

What does NuLife® ReBOUND™ do for the animal? ReBOUND™ helps maintain normal levels of beneficial bacteria in the rumen and lower gut to improve nutrient intake and utilization. It also limits negative energy balance and maintains feed efficiency through a healthy digestive system. Healthy animals are better equipped to absorb required nutrients, resist infections and perform better, potentially leading to higher production in cows and better growth in calves. ReBOUND™ can also help maintain protein supply due to a greater number of rumen microbes, which increases the supply of bypass protein. Intestinally-digestible rumen bypass protein is critical to sustaining high levels of milk production. ReBOUND™ helps maintain milk yield and lactation persistency, while reducing sick days.

Efficacy of NuLife® ReBOUND™ is proven. ReBOUND™ for cows and calves has been used extensively and is ideal for animals experiencing stress. Stress occurs during periods of sickness following calving, weaning, feed changes, weather changes, vaccination, antibiotic therapy, post surgery, nutritional challenges, etc. ReBOUND™ can be a useful tool to help maintain production and profitability of a dairy operation. It is available in powder, paste and capsule forms to suit various operations and customer preference. 

During periods of stress, ReBOUND™ helps: • Maintain appetite & digestion. • Maintain dry matter intake. • Maintain production.

A Author Bio: Dr. DuBourdieu received his Ph.D. in pharmacognosy from the University of Minnesota. He is a scientist with Vets Plus, Inc. and has been researching animal nutrition for over 20 years.

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©2012 CRI

Maintain Appetite & Digestion NuLife® ReBOUND™ helps to maintain normal appetite and digestion during times of stress. Feed during ration changes, shipping, birth, weaning, weather changes and following antibiotic treatment. Available in capsules, paste and powder.

Combat Dehydration NuLife® Oral Electrolyte™ is specially formulated for calves to help combat dehydration due to scours.

To order NuLife® ReBOUND™ or NuLife® Oral Electrolyte™, contact your Genex representative. Or, visit and shop under Herd Management Products.

NuLife ® is a registered trademark of VPI. ReBOUND™ is a trademark of VPI.




Find, Sort and Compare Bulls & Develop Your Own Customized Bull Index By: James Arati // Support Programs Manager, CRI


s a producer, your everyday busy life  leaves you with almost no time to dig for information or sort through growing bull lists to find the right genetics for your herd. So how do you find the right sire choices with the least time spent? Genex offers the solution – MPG™.

What is MPG?

MPG stands for Maximizing Profits through Genetics™. It is a Web-based program that allows you to quickly sort through all dairy bulls; it enables you to narrow bull lists according to your

How Do I Access the Customized Index Option?

Once on the survey page, add your milk price, feed cost ratio, important traits and any other situational information specific to your farm. After these details have been entered, MPG suggests an already‑established index (Lifetime Net Merit, TPI, JPI, etc.) that best fits your

Why a Customized Index?

Creating a customized index allows you to identify a group of bulls based on a combination of criteria you feel meets your goals for your herd. The index you create is a real dollar value index calculated with similar formulas as used by USDA and breed associations, but with consideration for your trait weightings.

Next, insert minimum and maximum levels for the various traits (under column headers “Min” and “Max”). Depending on your needs, you may also put extra emphasis on certain traits by altering the weighting for the trait (under column header “Customize”). The total for the custom index weighting, under the “Customize” heading, must equal 100.

Go to Choose “Bull Information” and “Customized Index” (see Image 1). This takes you to a survey which helps define a starting point for your personalized index.

How Do I Customize An Index?

specific traits of interest. MPG also has the flexibility to help you achieve your farm goals through the creation of your very own customized index.

j Image 1.

farm situation. The suggested index is merely a starting point. You are able to alter the weighting of specific traits and add minimum/maximum trait evaluation levels. On the customized index search filter, pick a source population of bulls; this is the population of bulls from which the bulls that meet your selection criteria will be selected. You can choose a preselected group (such as all active Genex Holstein bulls) or choose all active bulls industrywide and narrow your selection by stud(s) and breed as well as by the recessives or haplotypes to avoid.

For example (see Example 1), click on the LNM$ minimum box and enter 500 to include only sires that are $500 LNM or higher in the data set. Click on the Milk minimum box and enter 800 to choose sires that have 800 pounds or higher production. Set the weighting for Milk at +19 and so on. Once you have entered the search criteria, click the “Search” button to bring up a list of bulls that match your customized search criteria. The number of bulls in the customized search will display on the results table at the bottom of the Web page. To print a list of bulls or save the bull listing, choose the “Select All” button or individually select the bulls you desire to include. Then click “Export to CSV.” You are then able to select the individual trait evaluations you want included on the CSV file. The CSV file opens in a program such as Microsoft Excel. With MPG, sorting bulls has never been easier. You can develop a customized list of bulls for your breeding program in minutes. 

A Author Bio: James Arati has a bachelor's degree in ag business from the University of Wisconsin-River Falls and a master's in ag business from Kansas State University. He has worked as a farm manager and Genex consultant and A.I. technician. Today, he implements employee and producer training programs and assists with the development and education of Genex programs.

j Example 1. 2 0



©2012 CRI



Ruedingers Utilize Technology to Increase Farm Profits By: Jenny Hanson // Communications Manager, CRI


ohn Ruedinger and his wife Karen are third generation owners of a progressive dairy operation in Van Dyne, Wisconsin, USA. Throughout the farmâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s history, each generation has strived to improve and build upon the farm business by readily accepting and incorporating industry advancements. For Ruedinger, who has served as a member of the Cooperative Resources International (CRI) and Genex Cooperative, Inc. boards of directors for over 20 years, incorporating new genetic technologies is a strategic way to enhance farm profitability. Š2012 CRI



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Farm History

Reproduction Program

Ruedinger’s grandfather first entered the dairy industry with 15 cows and 80 acres. During his time spent in the industry, he witnessed the advent of several technological advancements: the introduction of electricity and running water, and the commercial release of hybrid seeds and fresh bull semen. Through use of these and other technologies, the dairy expanded to 25 cows and 160 acres by the time of his retirement.

Ruedinger entrusts the dairy’s reproduction program to a team of farm employees and Genex representatives. The dairy’s staff work diligently to enroll cows in synchronization programs. Genex professionals provide the A.I. service, a service they have supplied since 1987. In 2000, Genex expanded its offerings to the dairy and began providing total reproduction service; total reproduction service involves a Genex representative(s) visiting the dairy each day to conduct heat detection (using tail chalk) and perform A.I. Through the combined efforts of those individuals, the dairy’s reproduction program statistics are quite admirable. The pregnancy rate is currently 21%, services per conception are 1.9, and heifer age at first calving is 24 months.

Genetic Program The MAP™ mating program – used on the dairy since 1987 – generates genetic improvement. Ruedinger and his management team set their genetic criteria for sires in MAP and the program mates the bulls to each individual female accordingly. Their chosen genetic emphasis includes a blend of genomic-proven and daughter-proven sires in the 90th percentile for the Lifetime Net Merit (LNM) profit index. The bulls must also excel in foot, leg and udder improvement.

Farm ownership then transferred to Ruedinger’s father. During his father’s tenure the operation grew to 60 cows and 500 acres. New technologies also impacted this era – frozen semen replaced fresh semen, milk testing and ration balancing enhanced milk production, and agronomic advances and larger tractors propelled crop production. In 1995, Ruedinger succeeded his father as the dairy owner and manager. Then, in 1996, a fire destroyed the freestall barn, dairy barn, milk house and feed room. Dedicated to the dairy business, the Ruedingers chose to rebuild. They constructed a 200-cow freestall facility with a double-8 parallel parlor. Since that reconstruction effort, Ruedinger Farms Inc. has undergone several expansion projects. In fact, today’s operation includes more than 1,000 cows and 1,350 acres. Cattle, crops and equipment are cared for by 17 full-time staff members. And, recently staff have taken on a new endeavor raising about 300 feeder bull calves up to 580 pounds. “The business model I use today is much different than that of my father and grandfather,” explains Ruedinger. “Today, we rely on people and systems to operate. We have an excellent employee base and also utilize a custom heifer raiser, custom forage harvester and custom manure hauler. We use enhanced dairy and financial records to refine our business goals. And genomic DNA testing of artificial insemination (A.I.) bulls and dams, agronomic research and increased specialization further drive expanded business models.” J Ruedinger, right, explains his dairy’s breeding programs to a group of CRI’s international distributors.

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©2012 CRI


The use of high LNM sires gives the management team confidence the herd is progressing genetically. Furthermore with both production and health traits included in a sire’s LNM index evaluation, choosing high LNM sires allows for lower cull rates, reduced veterinary costs and more milk per cow. On the heifer side, the dairy’s heifers are housed at a custom raiser until three weeks before calving. These heifers are bred using high genetic merit GenChoice™ sexed semen for the first two services. If additional services are required, then calving ease sires in the top 10 percent of the breed for LNM are utilized. Utilization of elite genetics and a concentration of management practices on milk production have led to profitable production figures for the dairy. The 1,000 cows are currently milked three times a day and milk testing is conducted monthly. The herd averages 41.7 Kgs of milk per day with 3.7% butterfat and 3.04% protein. The overall rolling herd average is 1,3426 Kgs. with an average 135,000 somatic cell count.

Technology’s Impact “I am very excited about the development of GenChoice sexed semen and the use of genomics to enhance the genetic value of our dairy herd. These new technologies, if used right, will allow us to remain competitive in the global agriculture market,” shares Ruedinger. At Ruedinger Farms, GenChoice is used for the first service on cows and the first two services on heifers that are visually observed in heat. To Ruedinger, the benefit of GenChoice is that it is a tool to bring extra profit to the bottom line. “With GenChoice, we can choose which females have heifer calves; in other words, we can create our replacements from the best females in the herd. GenChoice also leads to more voluntary culling of animals with marginal reproductive

©2012 CRI


performance or poor health traits. GenChoice allows the herd to grow from within and/or benefit from new revenue streams such as merchandising cattle.” Many of the high genetic merit sires included in the dairy’s breeding program are genetically proven through genomic technology. “Genomics is by far one of the most exciting new technologies developed for the livestock industry,” notes Ruedinger. “Genomic technology allows us to determine whether to use a specific bull based on his genetic levels and to decide how much to use the bull based on his reliability level.” As a forward-thinking dairy producer, Ruedinger has visions for how genomics will impact his dairy. “There is a lot to be learned and the future of genomics holds as much potential on the female side as the male. When a more cost efficient genomic test becomes readily available to livestock producers, I plan to test all the females in my herd. By doing this, I will be able to select only the top 50 percent of the females and breed them to the highest LNM GenChoice bulls. This will allow us to have the most genetic progress possible while maintaining enough heifers for replacements.”

Plans for the Future Progress is inevitable in the Ruedinger Farms herd. The owners’ common sense, drive for seeking expanded business models, enthusiasm for new technologies and understanding of cattle genetics will lead to positive growth of the dairy farm. There’s no doubt the Ruedingers will meet their goal of expanding via internal herd growth to a total of 1,200 cows within the next two years.  A Author Bio: Jenny Hanson is a graduate of the University of Wisconsin–River Falls with a degree in agricultural communications. While at UW-River Falls, she authored news articles for the College of Agriculture, Food and Environmental Sciences. Today, she communicates about agriculture as editor of the Genex Dairy Horizons.



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The Genex lineup showcases 26 sires with +3.0 Sire Conception Rate (SCR). Choose Genex sires for their winning combinations of high SCR and other profit-impacting traits.





9 sires ≥ 6.0 9 si res ≥1

Produc tive Life

SPIN & WIN 0 0 6 $ ≥ s e r i s 0 0 . 9 2 0 . 3 + R 11 sires ≥ SC

e m i it t r e e f Li t M Ne

pe y T PTA

©2012 CRI


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