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Volume 18 Issue 4

November 2017

Integrate: blend into a functioning or unified whole; UNITE Mark Adam, General Manager

W

e have been in a whirlwind of integration since NorthStar Cooperative and Accelerated Genetics joined forces just over four months ago. Thus far we have integrated field service teams, board of directors, sire line-ups, animal health products, accounts receivables, vehicles, finances and employee benefit packages to name a few; with much more work to do. While some may look at this integration and see speed bumps and pot holes; your Cooperative has been able to steer clear of those threats. Instead as the two organizations become one to better serve you, we have kept our eyes on the long super highway that leads to exciting times. Combining more than 300 employees from different cultures might at first seem daunting, but in fact the absolute opposite has been true. Employees are working together to find better ways to serve you in our team culture; including restructuring routes to enhance territory

efficiencies, while still meeting your expectations. Earlier this fall it was exciting to have our combined team of sales representatives and genetic consultants together for the very first time at the Select Sires National Sales Conference. Team NorthStar met to celebrate our achievements thus far and share our goals for the new fiscal year. It was exciting to see the enthusiasm and cooperation of these 60 individuals to work together to meet our mission of “Enhancing producer profitability through integrated services.” This cooperative spirit was also evident later that month during our board of directors meeting where we welcomed three former Accelerated Genetics board members to the NorthStar board for the first time. As this was the last meeting for the fiscal year, we dedicated time to establishing business expectations, including reviewing and approving the fiscal 2018 budget. By the close of the meeting

it was apparent the entire board was supportive of the aggressive goals our team established, and yet committed to future investments in NorthStar’s products, people and programs for you. It is my honor to lead this team of talented employees as a fully integrated sales and service Cooperative. We are committed to surrounding you, our member-owners and customers, with a team of highly-trained and skilled employees that are passionate about being a partner in your business’s success. We are excited about the future and look forward to being the type of integrated agricultural enterprise that you appreciate partnering with. Our People. Our Passion.

Your


Even Superman Has a Sidekick

Jarrod Aldrich

Kailey Watson

T

he cows are milked, calves are fed, feed has been pushed up and… wait, was it cow 612 or cow 621 you saw in heat this morning? It’s time to breed, but a cow in the maternity pen needs your assistance and…wait, what sire was cow 621 mated with? Let’s face it, you’re not Superman – you could use some help. That’s why many dairy producers like Jarrod Aldrich, are making strides to improve their herds’ reproductive efficiency by delegating responsibilities and bringing in a reproductive specialist. The Corunna, Indiana producer sought the help of Brian Thornton, NorthStar Reproductive Specialist, in May 2015. “I was always busy milking, feeding, breeding and checking for heats so I knew I wasn’t running the dairy as efficiently as possible,” recalled Aldrich. “After my wife and I had our first kid, I just couldn’t do it all. I talked to some other producers in my area who had Brian breeding on their farm and not one of them had a bad thing to say about Brian or NorthStar, so I asked him to help me out.” “Brian was excited to start breeding for us,” laughed Aldrich. “He had big plans to improve our milk production and pregnancy and conception rates. Honestly, I wasn’t expecting a large improvement in those areas

because I thought our statistics were already pretty good. I just needed an experienced person to help me out while I was stretched for time.” Today, Thornton has a hand in nearly all aspects of the 200-cow Holstein herd’s reproduction program including daily tail chalking, walking the pens, breeding and checking fresh cows. “I’m surprised and impressed about where Brian has taken our reproduction program,” stated Aldrich. “He has tightened our calving interval and increased and steadied our milk production. Cows with high days in milk don’t even exist anymore. Most impressively, our pounds of milk per cow has increased by 2,500 pounds per lactation and our pregnancy rate hasn’t dropped below 56 percent since Brian joined us!” Though most producers understand the importance of reproductive efficiency in obtaining and maintaining profitability, many continue to struggle, regardless of their breeding abilities. “Producers simply don’t have the time needed to make sure their reproductive program is operating as efficiently as possible,” explained Thornton. “That’s why Jarrod’s testimony is so significant. He has the ability to breed, but the time he was able to carve out for breeding wasn’t always the ideal time in each

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Enhancing producer profitability through integrated services.

animal’s heat cycle. Thus, his pregnancy rate and milk production were not nearly as high as they could have been.” “I recently sat down with Jarrod and we did a little math to figure out just how much his profitability has increased since I started working with him,” stated Thornton. “Taking into account the amount Jarrod spends on arm service per cow, and his increased milk production, we discovered Jarrod’s return on investment is roughly $80,000 per year, assuming milk is priced at a conservative $16 per hundred weight!” With a substantial return on investment, Aldrich and Thornton are now focusing on improving the herd’s genetics by working with Alex Zechiel, NorthStar Genetic Consultant, to select quality genetics based on the herd’s genetic, reproduction and production goals. “Having Alex do the matings has made sire selection much easier for me,” explained Aldrich. “I don’t need to worry about inbreeding, and I know I’m getting the best genetics with the Select Sires bull lineup.” “Since I began using more gender SELECTed™ semen I’ve seen a lot of improvements in my two-year olds, as we’ve been able to concentrate on individual cow traits,” claimed Aldrich. “Brian does a great job getting cows


pregnant, so I’m never hesitant about spending more on semen.” With impressive reproductive statistics and quality genetics going into his herd, Aldrich has transitioned from viewing herd reproductive specialists as an extra set of hands to an irreplaceable part of his successful business. “Some people have asked me how I justify the cost of a reproductive specialist on the farm,” said Aldrich. “My answer is simple, I don’t think I could afford not to have him!”

Besides, even Superman has a sidekick. To learn more about NorthStar's team of Reproductive Specialists call 800.631.3510.

Some people have asked how I justify the cost of a reproductive specialist. My answer is simple, I don't think I could afford not to have him!

Enhancing producer profitability through integrated services.

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Proof that Genetics are Worth the Investment

Don't short change your future!

Forgotten Cows

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You know you have them, you just don’t always know who they are. Cows that never get sick, produce well and breed right back. They may not set the world on fire in any one particular area, but overall profitable cows. In contrast are the cows we really remember… high producers, chronically high SCC, routine mastitis, sore feet, trouble calving, and oh yea let’s not forget the kids show animal or pet. As herd size grows and labor is increasingly harder to find, it’s critical that we identify who our “forgotten cows” are and devise a plan to make more of them. So the question is, Can we breed for those types of cows, and can we quantify it? The answer to both is YES! There are many different ways we can now measure genetic impact for health, production and fertility by combining your dairy herd management data (PCDART, Dairy Comp) or genomic test results with a program developed by Select Sires. This will be the first in a series of articles you will see here in The POINT regarding measuring genetic merit. We will start with taking a look at a sampling of the ways genetics impacts your herd’s health and your bottom line.

Bottom Line

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An investment in better genetics can create more “forgotten cows” – cows that are pregnant, healthier, live longer and add dollars to your bottom line. Your NorthStar team can show you how genetics are working in your herd, and can help design a plan to create trouble free, profitable cows for the future. If you have questions or would like to see this information for your herd please ask. Remember it’s important not to skimp on genetics. Invest in the best you can, your herd’s future depends on it. Julie Ainsworth, Coordinator Dairy Production Analysis PAS

Ask about Special Savings going on now! Call NorthStar at 800.631.3510 to order! 4

Enhancing producer profitability through integrated services.

Contact Julie at: ainsworthj@northstarcooperative.com


Productive Life (PL) Productive Life (PL) is the measurement of the number of months a cow is expected to stay in the milking herd. The higher the number the better. Using Dairy Comp 305 data and sire pedigree, this example shows a lot of differences in the life of the animal in the herd, as well as health events, so let’s break it down. The High PL cows stay in the herd on average 3.7 more months than the Low PL group. That means more milk produced and shipped. But take a look at the difference in health events by group and consider the costs. There are significantly more instances of Mastitis, Metrities and Abortions in the Low PL group.

PL Avg

Considering the average costs of these incidences per lactation: Mastitis/$75 and Metritis/$125; as well as other health incidences DA/$178; Ketosis/$28 and Retained Placenta/$68, the opportunity to select genetics that minimize these costs can definitely impact the bottom line.

Fresh Abortions

DNB

Sold

Died

Mastitis

Metritis

LOW PL Cows

-.3

168

25

2

65

14

19

27

HIGH PL Cows

3.4

172

10

1

19

3

4

8

Somatic Cell Score (SCS) In an extremely well-run dairy where somatic cell is not an issue, would SCS make a difference? Remember SCS is an indicator of mastitis in a bull’s daughters based on the direct measure of somatic cells in milk samples. The lower the number the better. This example uses genomic data. With nearly a similar number of cows in each group, it’s easy to see that the lowest quartile for SCS has significantly fewer cases of mastitis and a much lower average linear score. Considering that one case of mastitis costs on average $75/lactation, paying attention to SCS can make a difference to your dairy.

LOWEST QUARTILE Genomic Somatic Cell (Range = 2.4 - 2.7)

HIGHEST QUARTILE Genomic Somatic Cell (Range = 3.0 - 3.2)

# of Cows

311

338

Mastitis Cases

63

194

Percentage

20%

57%

Avg Linear Score

1.4

2.1

Livability (LIV) Livability is a fairly new measurement and is best defined as an evaluation of the percent of a bull’s daughters that remain alive in the milking herd until they are culled. Higher values are better. Using farm data we can see genetic influence at work. There is a difference of 2.7 months between the Low and High LIV groups. Comparing similar group sizes (Fresh column), you can also see that 15 more animals died in the Low LIV group compared to the High LIV group. Longer lasting cows = more milk to ship = improved bottom line.

PTA LIV Avg

Fresh

Died

% Died

LOW PTA LIV Cows

-.2

446

41

9.2%

HIGH PTA LIV Cows

2.5

447

26

5.5%

Daughter Still Birth (DSB) Are you having any issues with calves being born alive, especially in first lactation heifers? DSB measures the ability of a bull’s daughter to deliver a live calf. Expressed as a percent of still born calves, the lower the value the better. Using sire pedigree index and first lactation data only, this example shows a 10 percent improvement in live calves from the cows in the first quartile. Even at a low estimated value of $150-$200 for a live calf, the difference to

the bottom line adds up, as does keeping the pipeline full of replacements for the future.

Quartile

DSB PTA Avg

Count

%DOA-Heifers

4th

7.6

283

14%

1st

5.5

400

4%

Enhancing producer profitability through integrated services.

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Eric Flory

Within two weeks, I could tell the cows were feeling better and they were looking healthier too.

Prevention vs. Treating Kailey Watson

R

unny noses. Loss of appetite. Low productivity. When it’s your child, you bring out the chicken soup and wait for the cold virus to pass. However, if those are the symptoms in your dairy herd, it may not be a virus and it may not pass unless you intervene. More and more, dairy producers around the U.S. are linking these symptoms to poisonous fungi known as ‘mycotoxins.’ Found in nearly all forages, eliminating mycotoxins from a dairy is next to impossible. That’s why Eric Flory relies on NorthStar’s complete line of direct-fed microbials. The Albion, Indiana producer started feeding Select DTX™ in his 300-cow Holstein herd in February at the recommendation of his NorthStar Reproductive Specialist, Brian Thornton. “When Brian started breeding for us in 2016, we were really impressed by the increase in our conception and pregnancy rates,” stated Flory. “That’s why I was surprised when Brian thought our reproduction program could make more improvements. With the suppressed heats he was seeing and health issues, such as loose manure, Brian asked if he could send a feed sample to be tested for mycotoxins.” Just as Thornton suspected, the mycotoxin analysis reported high levels of Deoxynivalenol (Vomitoxin) in Flory’s TMR. “As soon as the report came in, we ordered our first dose of DTX,” recalled Flory. “It was incredible how fast we saw

results. Within two weeks, our herd had more consistent manure – that was a relief for me. I could tell the cows were feeling better, and they were looking really good too.” “The change we saw in our reproduction program is what really made DTX valuable,” claimed Flory. “Within two months, our pregnancy rate increased to nearly 30 percent! We’re so glad that Brian pushed us to improve our program. If it wasn’t for his eye, we’d still be where we were last year – not a bad place, but we’re doing so much better now.” With significant improvements in his herd’s health and reproduction, Flory is now focusing on his next goal; decreasing his dairy’s SCC with Select BioCycle Plus™. “We made the switch to BioCycle Plus in April after our SCC climbed higher than we wanted,” explained Flory. “By decreasing our SCC, we’re not only improving herd health but ultimately improving our profitability by earning a larger milk check bonus.” BioCycle Plus is a complete direct-fed microbial that combines the benefits of BioCycle™ and DTX. While DTX helps a cow’s immune system overcome negative effects of mycotoxins, BioCycle deals with the gram negative imbalances in the cow’s intestinal tract. Therefore, BioCycle Plus helps stimulate estrus expression and improves feed utilization and overall herd health.

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Enhancing producer profitability through integrated services.

Though only a few months have passed since Flory introduced his herd to BioCycle Plus, he is impressed with the changes he has seen. “Since feeding BioCycle Plus, we’re seeing a huge difference in our fresh cows,” stated Flory. “They’re really taking off without any metabolic issues, which is something that we struggled with in the past.” “Thanks to improved herd health and increased signs of heat combined with Brian’s consistent breeding technique, our milk production has also increased,” explained Flory. “Brian has been able to lower our average days in milk and we’re averaging about 70 pounds of milk per cow each day.” Treating symptoms can be both tedious and expensive. That’s why many producers, like Flory, are relying on direct-fed microbials to combat the effects of mold-challenged feed. “Having experienced steady increases in our herd’s health, reproduction, and milk production since using DTX and BioCycle Plus, I would recommend these products,” stated Flory. DTX and BioCycle Plus are part of a complete line of direct-fed microbials available through NorthStar. To determine if these products are right for your herd, first test your feed. Your NorthStar Representative can assist you with feed sampling and discuss proper sampling procedures.


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Enhancing producer profitability through integrated services.

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Pre-pay and Earn 3%

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

Earn 3 percent when you make a pre-payment toward your 2018 purchases at NorthStar Cooperative. To take advantage of this offer, make a pre-payment by cash or check to NorthStar between December 1 - 28, 2017.

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

gender SELECTed is a trademark of Select Sires Inc. SexedULTRA is a trademark of Inguran LLC. All gender SELECTed semen is processed using Sexed ULTRA technology. Limitations and Conditions of Sale: gender SELECTed semen shall be used only for the single insemination of one female bovine during natural ovulation with the intent to produce single offspring unless specifically approved on an individual customer basis by Sexing Technologies in writing. As a condition of purchasing gender SELECTed semen, the purchaser agrees that gender SELECTed semen will not be reverse sorted or re-sorted unless specifically permitted, in advance, on a case-by-case basis by Select Sires in writing. Select Sires intends to monitor the use of the gender SELECTed semen and vigorously enforce these restrictions on use. Please see http://www.selectsires.com/designations/genderselected. html for additional details. NorthStar Cooperative, its agents or employees cannot and do not guarantee the conception rate, gender, quality or productivity to be obtained in connection with the use of its products, recommended techniques or services. WE MAKE NO WARRANTIES OF ANY KIND WHATSOEVER, EXPRESSED OR IMPLIED, WHICH EXTEND BEYOND THE DESCRIPTION OF ITS PRODUCTS OR SERVICES AND HEREBY DISCLAIMS ALL WARRANTIES OF MERCHANTABILITY AND FITNESS FOR A PARTICULAR PURPOSE. In the unlikely event that any of our products or services shall be proven to be defective, damages resulting from their use shall exclude consequential damages and be limited to their purchase price.

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GEAR Up For The Holidays with $10 NorthStar Sweatshirts

Order and pay online by December 8 for delivery by Christmas.

• Offer available while supplies last. • Option to personalize with your farm name available. • Order at northstarcooperativestore.com

The Point - November 2017  

NorthStar Cooperative Customer Newsletter