Selections | Fall 2022

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“WHAT IF?” David C. Thorbahn, President and C.E.O. Select Sires held its sales conference in mid-September, welcoming more than 450 sales representatives, genetic and reproductive consultants, and field staff from each of the six member cooperatives – the trusted advisors that work alongside you and your dairy. Training was provided by experts from various sectors of the A.I. and genetics industries, and herd owners sharing their strategies for success. The sales conference is designed to provide our people with the finest and most up-to-date educational tools and resources to best serve you, our farmer-owners. This year’s theme of “What If?” encouraged our staff to dream, learn and plan to improve their skills, all while thinking outside the box. I’d like to challenge our dairy customers to do the same in order to take advantage of the opportunities in our changing world. What If... your herd was healthier? Have you considered how a healthier herd can influence your bottom line? No matter your specific goals, they all tie into your profit in some way or another. Healthy cows are no exception. A longer-living herd translates to a better return on your investment to grow these animals from calfhood until they enter the milking string. A healthier herd can also lead to less reliance on antibiotics and treatments costs. When your cows are feeling their best, gene expression is amplified. They are more likely to live up to their genetic potential for efficiency, production and reproduction. Select Sires can help you achieve a healthier herd genetically with a lineup of sires and genetic selection tools. Learn more about the impact of these genetics and a dairy farmer’s first-hand experience with the Herd Health Profit Dollars™ (HHP$™) index on page 12. What If... you could diversify your profits? Sexed semen and elite beef genetics can increase the value of replacements and the beef cattle you market. No company can match Select Sires’ industry-leading genetics or our complete beef x dairy program. From genetic selection, calf care, identification, traceability and even market partners, ProfitSOURCE® is the industry’s only full-service beef x dairy program. And not only do you have options to breed your dairy cattle to beef sires, but ProfitSOURCE also includes HerdFlex® by SimVitro® full-beef embryos as another diversification opportunity. What If... your dairy could become more sustainable? Sustainability is one of the most popular buzz words in our industry. It can be tied to so many things, including the environment, economics, inputs, cow health and more. No matter how you view sustainability, I guarantee there’s one way you could improve an aspect of your herd that will increase the sustainability and longevity of your dairy operation and your legacy as a dairy farmer. Challenge your thinking and challenge your Select Sires representative to think “What If?” and see how you can tweak your genetic and reproductive strategies to take advantage of more opportunities in our changing world. u

HHP$™ LEADERS A better cow for a better future. Herd Health Profit Dollars (HHP$) is a new tool to help producers create healthy, longer-living cattle in their herds. The HHP$ index, customized for the Jersey breed, prioritizes improvement for Combined Fat and Protein (CFP) while maintaining high fertility and robust mastitis resistance!

PROVEN HHP$ LEADERS 7JE1758 14JE769 7JE1699 7JE1630 7JE1726

JX THRASHER {6} 769 JX STONEY {3} 740 JX PINE {6} 691 KESTREL-P 648 STARLORD 629

GFORCE ™ HHP$ LEADERS 7JE2000 507JE1930 7JE1950 14JE2002 7JE5078 14JE1952 7JE1965 14JE1951 14JE1941 7JE1928


Contact your Select Sires representative today to protect your herd's health and your bottom line!

All Jerseys listed are BBR 100. VOLANT is JH1C. DABO-P is JNSC.

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There are often a lot of questions in the dairy industry regarding how genomic testing might fit into a herd’s management routine and whether there is a valuable return on investment, especially in commercial dairy herds. While it is true that heifer raising costs continue to increase given the rise in feed, labor and other input costs, producing high quality heifers is more important than ever and the opportunity cost of not understanding the genomic traits of each animal is very significant. When discussing the value and application of genomic testing in commercial dairies, I usually reflect on a variety of important areas, but for this article, I will focus on two main areas – the value of selective culling of virgin heifers and the value of using genomic predictions to help guide breeding decisions. We will address these two topics from the perspective of actual data from a large, Midwestern Holstein dairy that is currently not using any genomic testing. Dairy “A” is considering genomic testing of heifers just after weaning with a goal of selectively removing 5% of heifers if the value of testing can be demonstrated. 1. Selective heifer removal Genomic testing can be performed to determine which heifers are less likely to be successful as future members of the lactating herd, but to do this, an examination of a herd’s heifer needs plus any desired margin should first be performed. In general, herds should strive to produce a small excess beyond their projected needs and an additional allowance needs to be provided if heifers will be removed based upon genomic testing. As an example, for Dairy “A”, the herd has averaged 34-35% turnover for the past two years and management would like to produce enough heifers to provide a 7% excess (enough to potentially support a 37% replacement rate if needed). At their current level of performance, 85% of heifers born alive survive and are available to calve into the herd.

In reviewing potential time points for testing and removal, Dairy “A” would like to test animals just after weaning and plan to remove less desirable heifers by 90 days of age. With this approach, heifers can be evaluated for early calfhood disease prior to testing and making the final decision. The plan is to test heifers with CLARIFIDE® Plus and to make selection decisions using the Dairy Wellness Profit Index® (DWP$®). Additionally, they would like to compare this option with using Net Merit (NM$) based upon the heifers’ pedigree index. Starting with an expected mean DWP$ of 6331 for the U.S. Holstein heifer population and a standard deviation of 2771, removing the bottom 5% would result in a new average DWP$ of 663. Assuming $1.842 of economic value per point of DWP$, the gain per average heifer is $55. Similarly, for the NM$ values for Pedigree Index, the projected value of the same selection process would be $1.60 * 25 = $40. Of course, the reliability of the two measures are very different with 82% reliability1 for DWP$ vs. only 45% reliability for the Pedigree Index NM$3; thus, these reported differences are likely very conservative. 2. Strategic breeding strategies to produce replacement heifers Once heifers have been tested, the genomic results can be used throughout their life. A great approach is to then prioritize and select which animals produce the future replacement animals and which animals do not based in large part upon genomic predictions. It is important to understand that not all cows deserve to produce replacements and in today’s marketplace, significant value can be realized by breeding the low genetic merit animals to beef semen. The key is to determine first how many heifers should be produced and then to develop a breeding strategy using a blend of sex-sorted dairy semen on the best cows and beef semen on genetically inferior animals, regardless of lactation number. Remember, the distribution of genetic merit is best described as a bell-shaped curve. Blanket application of sexed semen to heifers and beef semen in older cows might seem appropriate, but a large lost opportunity exists if genomic results are not used to select the future dams of replacements because each lactation group contains some very good animals and some very poor-quality animals. Continue reading on page 4.

Figure 1. Expected distribution of DWP$ and Pedigree Index NM$ and the predicted values of removing the lower 5% of each distribution. Expected Distribution of DWP$ (U.S. Holstein Heifers)

Heifers to Remove

Heifers to Keep

DWP$ Avg. DWP$ (All Dairy Heifers) 633 Heifers to Remove 5% 62 Heifers to Keep 95% 663 Difference in DWP$: 30 Estimated Economic Value $55 NM$ Avg. NM$ (All Dairy Heifers) 354 Heifers to Remove 5% -129 Heifers to Keep 95% 379 Difference in NM$: 25 Estimated Economic Value $40

Expected Distribution of NM$ (Pedigree Index) (U.S. Holstein Heifers)

Heifers to Remove

Heifers to Keep 3 u

GENOMIC TESTING, continued... To illustrate the potential value opportunity of a strategic breeding strategy, actual reproductive performance from Dairy “A” was used to populate a breeding model using two different allocations of semen by lactation group. In the current (actual) reproductive program (Table 1), a blend of sexed, conventional and to a lesser degree, beef semen is used across a maximum of four service opportunities. Animals are allocated on the basis of pedigree index values for NM$. Based on the recorded reproductive performance and the subsequent heifer completion rate of 85%, this program should provide sufficient replacements (649 heifers calving per year) to maintain the current replacement rate of 35% plus provide a small excess for unanticipated needs. Also shown in Table 1 is a potential reproductive management program. In this case, animals are selected based on DWP$ with the better animals receiving sexed or conventional semen and the inferior animals receiving beef semen. By selecting a smaller proportion of animals to produce future replacements (through greater use of sexed vs. conventional semen), greater selection intensity is applied across all lactation groups. Also, due to greater use of sexed semen, not only are more heifers created in the potential program (to accommodate the desired selective culling of young heifers previously described), but more beef cross animals are also produced. The final numbers and expected economic impacts are shown in Table 2. The results displayed in Table 2 show not only the anticipated changes in the distribution of wet calves but also the added expenses associated with the new breeding strategy. For this example, semen costs are set at $20, $45, and $15 for conventional dairy, sexed dairy, and beef sires, respectively, reflecting this producer’s approximate true costs. Semen costs will vary by source and sire; these can be seen as conservative averages for most commercial herds in the U.S. Additionally, the values in Table 2 also reflect a $200 value of dairy heifers, $50 for Holstein bull calves, and $175 for beef cross calves. While these values will differ geographically, they reflect the current Continue reading on page 6. 4 u

Table 1. A comparison of the current and potential reproductive programs for Dairy “A”. The pregnancy numbers are the result of each breeding approach on a cohort of animals entering the breeding population each month. Current Reproductive Program SS

Potential Reproductive Program

Conv. Beef 4 4 15% 0% 14 0

No. services Percent of Animals No. pregnancies Selection intensity

2 85% 27 0.07

No. services Percent of Animals No. pregnancies Selection intensity

1 25% 4 0.21

4 65% 28

4 10% 4

No. services Percent of Animals No. pregnancies Selection intensity

1 10% 2 0.35

4 70% 24

4 20% 6

No. services Percent of Animals No. pregnancies Selection intensity

1 0% 0 0.88

4 44% 28

4 55% 34

Overall conception risk

SS Lact = 0

Lact = 1

Lact = 2

Lact > 2


Conv. Beef 0 4 0% 10% 0 7

No. services Percent of Animals No. pregnancies Selection intensity

3 90% 33 0.21

No. services Percent of Animals No. pregnancies Selection intensity

3 75% 24 0.42

0 0% 0

4 25% 12

No. services Percent of Animals No. pregnancies Selection intensity

2 30% 7 0.59

4 33% 13

4 37% 12

No. services Percent of Animals No. pregnancies Selection intensity

1 30% 8 0.97

4 10% 16

4 60% 37

Overall conception risk


Table 2. A comparison of predicted results of the current vs. potential reproductive management programs for Dairy “A.” Current Program

Potential Program

Expected No. of female calves to be born alive




Expected No. of male calves to be born alive



Expected No. of beef calves to be born alive




Expected Total Calf Value Total straws of sexed semen



















Total straws of conventional semen






Total straws of beef semen






Total Straws (breedings)






Overall conception risk


Heifers culled due to repro failure (difference/year)

48% 5

Cows culled due to repro failure (difference/year)


Heifer days open (difference/animal)


Cow days open (difference/animal)


Economic Value of Repro Program Differences


No. of heifer-based replacements expected to calve



No. of Lact=1-based replacements expected to calve



No. of Lact=2-based replacements expected to calve



No. of Lact>2-based replacements expected to calve



Total replacements expected to calve



Avg. economic value of genetic gain (per heifer)



Total Value per Year of Potential vs. Current Program Average Value per Replacement Heifer That Calves

$97,899 $78,337 $115

MAKE LONGEVITY HER LEGACY. Be sure your goals reflect your genetic selection criteria.

Healthy cows stay in the herd longer, adding more lifetime lactations and potential for higher yields. Use Select Sires’ Herd Health Profit Dollars™ (HHP$™) to boost cow health and reduce your reliance on antibiotics. To avoid excessive replacement costs and achieve the greatest return on your investment, make longevity her legacy.

(614) 873-4683 u Your Success Our Passion. is a registered trademark and ™Herd Health Profit Dollars and HHP$ are trademarks of Select Sires Inc.


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GENOMIC TESTING, continued... average values estimated by Dairy “A” and are representative of other can be fully implemented resulting in a predicted value gain of $115 per herds in this region based on conversations with other producers. heifer that calves into the herd (row 22). Subtracting the positive returns The herd’s actual fertility results were used in order to estimate ($55 + $115) from the higher raising + testing cost of $2,593 results in predicted conception risk changes. (Note, the use of sexed semen an adjusted, final raising cost of $2,423. Comparing this to the Scenario was predicted to have a conception risk that was 83% of what would 1 baseline raising cost of $2,500 reveals a final net gain of $77 per be expected by using conventional dairy semen.) In summary, the heifer calving into the herd (row 24). improved distribution of wet calves resulted in a positive annual value This example for Dairy “A” clearly shows the power of using genomic of $36,327 but incurred added costs or losses due to reallocation testing to remove inferior quality heifers early in life and incorporating of semen (-$27,266) and the negative impacts on the reproductive genomic results into the selection of dams that will produce the next performance due to greater sexed semen used (-$28,623). However, generation of replacement heifers. As previously described, $77 is the selecting the better heifers and cows to produce the next generation projected net return per heifer that calves and already includes all of replacement animals resulted in an improvement in genetic gain testing costs, not only for the heifers that survive to calve themselves, ($97,899) due to greater selective pressure on each lactation group’s but also for all of the inferior heifers that were selectively removed and distribution of animals. Note, the values shown here are solely the the additional 8.9% of heifers that were removed later due to death or result of greater selective pressure on the female side and assume that reproductive failure. Additionally, the estimated increase in raising cost the genetic potential of sires used were equal for both programs. In the that results from additional heifer culling is also included. Thus, this current program, selection is made by use of Pedigree Index NM$. If no estimated return of $77/heifer calving could be viewed as a conservative selection of dams is used, the genetic gain would be even larger. but robust estimate of the value of testing and using these test results 3. Putting it all together for improved decision making. u REFERENCES Table 3 shows the overall summary of animal numbers and the Zoetis data on file, April 2022. Fessenden B, Weigel DJ, Osterstock J, Galligan DT, Di Croce F. Validation of genomic predicted economic impacts of the combined strategy of testing young predictions for a lifetime merit selection index for the U.S. dairy industry. Journal of Dairy Science. January 2020. Council on Dairy Cattle Breeding (CDCB) accessed October 18, 2022. heifers, removing the lower 5%, and then using the genomic values to cfm?R_menu=v_2208.v_Heifers.v_Holstein_wddx#StartBody select the dams of the next generation. The estimated Table 3. Summarization of heifer numbers, replacement needs, heifer raising cost for Dairy “A” is $2,500 per heifer and the net projected economic impact of the combined management strategies. (row 1) that calves but when animals are selectively removed prior to calving, culled heifers typically General Info Scenario 1: Scenario 2: No Testing Test & Remove do not return the investments made to that point; 1 Average heifer raising cost $2,500 $2,541 consequently, the potential approach includes a higher cost of raising ($2,541). To account for the 5% selective 2 Average herd size 1,750 culling of heifers, Dairy “A” will need to produce extra 3 Average No. removals (replacements needed)/year 605 heifers up front and pay to test these heifers and 4 Replacement rate supported 34.6% these costs are reflected in Table 3. Once the selective 5 Additional heifers for “cushion” 43 removal of inferior heifers is complete, the remaining 6 Targeted replacement heifers available/year 648 raising period performance is the same. So, Scenario 1 7 Potential replacement rate supported 37.0% (Current) initially produces 765 liveborn heifers while 8 No. heifers needed to be born alive for targeted goal 765 806 Scenario 2 (Potential) must produce 806 to end up with 9 Percent died or sold preweaning 7.0% the same targeted level of 649 heifers that calve (row 10 No. weaned (tested) 712 749 17). Of course, there is also the cost of testing ($45, 11 CLARIFIDE Plus test cost $45 row 11 which is using list price of CLARIFIDE Plus + 12 Total cost of testing $33,723 average CDCB fee charged per animal) that must be 13 Percent of tested heifers removed 5.0% considered for all heifers that make it to that point. 14 No. selectively removed 37 Adding the higher cost of raising the selected heifers (after removing 5%) and the cost of testing yields a 15 No. of heifers at 90 days of age 712 712 difference per heifer of $93 greater cost for the test and 16 Additional culls (repro) and deads post-weaning 8.9% 8.9% remove scenario. 17 No. of heifers calving 649 649 After considering the added raising and testing 18 Adjusted raising and testing cost/heifer calving $2,500 $2,593 costs, now our attention is turned to the accounting 19 DWP$/heifer (average) 633 663 of the value gains associated with Scenario 2. The 20 Net DWP$ advantage 30 selective removal of the lowest 5% results in a genomic 21 Total predicted genomic value gain (DWP$) $55 value gain of $55 per heifer (row 21). Once the herd 22 Net value from selective breeding $115 has reached steady state for testing and all animals 23 Final, adjusted “cost” per heifer entering herd: $2,500 $2,423 have genomic results, the selective breeding approach 1



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24 Net Gain (Value Achieved) per Heifer Calving:


DECODING INDUSTRY INDEXES Julie Ainsworth, Retired Dairy Records and Consulting Coordinator, CentralStar Cooperative, Inc.

Aside from the obvious goal of generating a pregnancy, what else do you want from the genetics you buy? Are you looking to increase milk production, improve solids, reduce mastitis, better calving ease or fertility, make smaller cows, etc.? Since you seldom select genetics to accomplish a single goal, using a genetic index can be a great option. But even indexes can be a bit confusing as the number available continues to grow, as well as the focus of each. So, where should you start to determine the best index to improve the long-term profitability of your herd? I’d suggest starting with a key question: What causes cows to leave your herd? While the answer will likely vary from herd to herd, in most cases it boils down to reproductive failure, mastitis, low production and lameness. Realize that low production is often caused by one of the other reasons or a different health challenge. For which reasons do animals most often leave your herd? Once you know that, it’s easier to understand which index is best for your herd. Keep in mind, though, that for genetics to reach their full potential, a good environment for cows and calves to thrive is mandatory.

Consensus on what is most important in selection indexes remains elusive, but they do allow information on many different traits to be combined into one index for genetic ranking. Over the years, much of the emphasis within indexes has changed from yield traits to fertility, health, and fitness traits. This has been brought about by the change in production economics and a shift to keeping more older cows in the herd, allowing fewer heifers to be raised. Semen typically accounts for a very small percentage of total farm expenses, but dramatically influences your herd’s future through longevity and production. Using genetic indexes can help you get the most bang for your buck and simplify your genetic selection process. However, to make it even easier and more effective, set up a consultation with your local Select Sires cooperative. Based on your milk market and future plans, Select Sires can develop mating recommendations to meet inventory needs and achieve your genetic goals. u

Here’s some common scenarios that you might find relatable… SCC is high, we’re treating too many cows for mastitis. The indexes that emphasize mastitis resistance the most are Select Sires’ Herd Health Profit Dollars™ (HHP$™) and Dairy Wellness Profit Index® (DWP$®). Along with mastitis resistance, HHP$ places some selection on udders, specifically udder depth and teat size and rear teat placement, which should help prevent mastitis. We lose too many cows from reproductive failure. HHP$, DWP$ and Total Performance Index® (TPI®) offer the highest emphasis for fertility. These indexes will allow you to breed for more fertile cows and lower the number of cows leaving for reproductive failure in the future. Big cows don’t fit well in our facilities. All of these economic indexes place negative direct weight on body size, with TPI having the least emphasis. I want more total pounds of fat and protein. The indexes that put the most emphasis on combined fat and protein would be HHP$, TPI, Net Merit (NM$) and Cheese Merit (CM$). The most emphasis that any of the indexes put on milk is 1-2%. Over the years, less emphasis has been placed on the production of pounds of milk, because across the country, we are sending less fluid and more solids off the farm. I want cows that calve easily and unassisted. All indexes put some emphasis on calving ability to the tune of 1-3%.


















Mastitis, SCS












Other Cow Health






Calving Ability






Calf Health


















Our herd has more lame cows than we should. For most indexes, lameness would fall under the category of “other cow health.” Since lameness is lumped in with other health traits (also important), it is difficult to see the emphasis it receives. DWP$ is the only index that places a direct weight on lameness evaluations. Calf health is a challenge. DWP$ is the only index that places significant emphasis on calf health and would be the go-to index to improve calf immunity.

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THE LEADING SUCCESS METRIC Ray Nebel, Ph.D., Research and Technical Consultant for Select Sires Inc. and CowManager® The transition period is critical for a dairy cow. It contributes to her recovery post-calving and determines the trajectory of her lactation and next reproduction cycle. To achieve fewer fresh cow health events with less labor and veterinary costs, herds can enlist the intuitive power of CowManager. The activity monitoring system focuses on group performance by analyzing data provided by machine learning algorithms. The system creates alerts and allows dairies to intervene earlier than ever before, leading to healthier, more productive fresh cows. Healthy cows benefit more than just the herd’s bottom line. Minimizing the effects of health challenges is also an opportunity to reduce greenhouse gas (GhG) emissions. Fresh cow diseases, such as: subclinical ketosis, metritis, mastitis, retained placenta, displaced abomasum and many others are associated with reduced milk production and a greater likelihood of culling the first 30 days in milk. It was recently reported in Hoard’s Dairyman that subclinical ketosis elevates the carbon footprint per unit of milk by 2% per case and costs approximately $117 per case. When combined with other transition diseases that often accompany ketosis, the GhG impacts are intensified. GhG emissions per gallon of milk climbs by 6.9% for cows that also develop mastitis, 3.7% for cows that also develop metritis and 6% for cows that also develop clinical ketosis.* Nutrition module A decline in eating and resulting rumination can be an early indicator of health issues, extra expenses and profit loss. CowManager gives in-depth insights about the well-being of both individual cows and groups of cows. The system alerts when it detects a significant decline in eating and rumination during the lactation and transition period prior to calving. The alerts for reduced feed intake, group

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health issues and heat stress are usually delivered to farmers 30-48 hours before any clinical signs can be noted - allowing for efficient proactive intervention. This results in better cow health and a more productive herd while significantly reducing feed, labor and medical costs for maximized profitability and longevity. Health alerts The health module is most known for its accuracy and timeliness. CowManager’s unique temperature monitor sends an alert if there is a drop of seven or more degrees in ear skin temperature. The skin temperature is inversely related to the core body temperature and so when the skin temperature is lower, the body temperature is elevated. These temperature alerts offer an extra dimension to the health alerts as seen in the adjacent table. Health alerts are driven by a decrease in rumination and eating minutes combined with a decrease in overall activity. Sophisticated algorithms have been developed to classify cows into three categories: suspicious, sick and very sick. For each category, and depending on the length of time the cow has experienced the specific behaviors, the table provides farmers with a to do list as well as possible actions recommended by herd health consultants or veterinarians. Herds are always encouraged to follow the recommendation of their veterinarians.

Health Check: Sick Alert

CHECK OPTIONS Check milk weights, DIM, etc. A quick look-over for something obvious (ie. lameness, swollen quarter, etc.) Check manure for off cows- is it different from other cows? Digestive issue Palpation for mastitis- strip in a sanitary manner to prevent spread of mastitis to another cow. Temp the cows, looking for signs of pneumonia or another type of infection Fresh cows should also be checked for metritis, ketosis, RP or DA Digestive upset, mastitis and sore feet are most common

Find out the different alert types from your cow, with these experiences, checks and actions from previous CowManager users.

Alert type


Suspicious 2h

Suspicious 10h



Eating time

Back to normal


< 90% related to own level

> (4) hr

Ear temp

To do


Possible action? Follow herd health consultant advice




Skip Cow


Visual check cow

Depression, rumen fill, udder palpation, lameness

Prevent negative energy balance Recheck tomorrow

If cow stays on list: full veterinary exam

Full veterinary exam - temp, DA, udder exam, manure, uterus, lameness, breathing, body fill

Separate cows if necessary Ensure eating and drinking Temp 39.5-40 painkiller Temp >40 or second day>39.5

Look at (hours), DIM, milk, graph, pen, Lac nr, RUM, EAT, Inact, temp

Cow Status

Sick 6h


< 3 hr




Check alert level tomorrow- if suspicious follow protocol

Sick 7h

< 10 hr /day

> 3 hr


Visual check and temp

Depression, body fill, udder palpation, lameness

Separate cows if necessary Ensure eating and drinking If temp >40 treat as very sick

Very Sick 5h


> 4 hr


Check cow Full veterinary exam

Temp, DA, udder exam, manure, uterus, lameness, breathing, body fill

Normal temp - consider drench Temp 39.5-40 painkiller Temp >40 or second day >39.5

< 10 hr /day

> 4 hr


Check cow Full veterinary exam

Temp, DA, udder exam, manure, uterus, lameness, breathing, body fill

Call veterinarian to discuss medication

Very Sick 11h


Group level



Monitoring the transition period The transition monitor is a section within the nutrition module and is focused on herd level assessments and comparing individual cows with the average herd performance. The period starts 50 days prior to the expected calving date and is calculated from the last breeding date. It continues until 25 days after calving. A transition alert occurs when the rumination plus eating minutes drop one (1) standard deviation below the comparison group. This group could be a specific lactation group or all lactating cows. After reviewing 83 herds with over 1,000 cows monitored, 51-97% of the cows with a transition alert had a health alert less than 30 days in milk, including suspicious alerts. Thirty-six percent of all cows culled from the herd less than 30 days-in-milk had a transition alert and herds ranged from 11-65%. In a field trial conducted in a 3,000-cow herd, approximately 50% of the cows that had a transition alert during the dry period and were not treated, experienced a fresh cow health alert that was confirmed by visual inspection. In contrast, fresh cow health alerts were significantly reduced when given a yeast bolus within three days of the alert appearing. In general, over conditioned cows and lame cows did not respond to treatment with a yeast bolus. The greatest number of alerts occurred when cows were moved from the far-off to close-up group usually around 21-30 days prior to

No responsibility can be taken by CowManager for this indicative chart. Always consult your veterinarian before treatment.

expected calving. Cows that are forced to delay their feeding time due to overcrowding may consume a poorer quality diet and these cows may be unable to maintain adequate nutrient intake. Increased feeding competition due to overstocking may reduce intake and increase feeding rate, possibly increasing the risk for metabolic problems such as displaced abomasum and subacute ruminal acidosis. The many benefits of a well-managed transition period We know that most transition diseases occur during the three weeks after calving, many of which are triggered at birth or prior to calving during the dry period. Sick animals eat less, resulting in less rumination and subsequently increase their risk of health challenges. CowManager identifies cows at risk due to a drop in eating and rumination one to three days before astute managers. A strategic approach to using this information can yield success for the dairy. The opportunity for high-producing dairy cows to eat whenever they want is important to maintain cow health, welfare, productivity, and ultimately profitability of the farm. Dairy producers can use health and transition alerts of animal behavior supplied by the CowManager system to improve cow welfare and performance. Learn more about CowManager by scanning the QR code. u

*Hoard’s Dairyman July 30, 2022

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COOKIE-CUTTER CONSISTENCY “My philosophy back then and now, is to identify and visualize the cows I want to milk. And in my case, I wanted 5,700 of them,” says Chris Terra, manager of Red Top Jerseys. Chris Terra was hired in 2006 by the owners of Red Top Jerseys: the Wickstrom and Nyman families. At that time, the dairy was not yet operating and there were no animals on site. Terra oversaw the final stages of construction and was then tasked with acquiring animals. In 2007, he began milking 1,200 cows sourced from all over the country and California – described as a “band of misfits” by Terra and Herby Lutz, Jersey sire analyst. Within five years, Terra grew the dairy from 1,200 cows to 5,700 cows, continued with construction of a second rotary parlor and other facilities, and made genetics his priority. In the last 10 years, Terra’s drive and determination regarding genetic improvement has not let up. Simplify his goals and you’ll find one common theme: consistency.

Genetic strategy Terra describes his ideal cow as “functional, moderately sized, good feet and legs, walks in and out of the parlor three times each day, has 85-90 pounds of fat corrected milk and isn’t in the hospital pen.” To achieve this, he works with only six sires at a time. These sires are of the most elite genetic status with high percent fat and protein and Combined Fat and Protein (CFP) and positive Daughter Pregnancy Rate (DPR). Terra explains that while he works hard to manage milk production, he also protects milk yield when determining sire selection. Red Top’s clear and concise genetic philosophy combined with the sire selection strategy has led to phenomenal results and progress for the dairy. What was once described as a “band of misfits” is now one of California’s most successful Jersey herds with high-scoring, high-producing cows. As he walks the pens, Terra describes his cows as “cookie-cutter” and Herby Lutz agrees with a resounding, “consistent, consistent, consistent.” Diversification strategy With Red Top’s genetic strategy in place, Terra’s most recent focus has been on heifer and cow inventories, as well as opportunities for diversification. His first step was working with All West/Select Sires to analyze the herd with a genetic audit using the cooperative’s proprietary Optimal Genetic Pathways calculator. The resulting recommendation was to breed 40-50% of Red Top’s herd to beef semen. At first, Terra was shocked and did not have much confidence in the strategy nor did he feel comfortable with beef semen conception rates. And so, he decided to test the waters and wait on the results. Over time and after seeing great conception rates with beef semen, Terra went all in. Today, Red Top Jerseys breeds nearly 70% of the lactating herd to beef and is taking advantage of the thriving beef x dairy market. u 10 u

Want to hear more about Red Top’s herd statistics and strategies for success? Listen to an exclusive interview with Chris Terra on the Select Sires Podcast.


ACTIVELY IMPROVE RESPIRATION Jill Strangstalien, Director of Herd Management Solutions, Select Sires Inc.

From dairy to grower to feedlot, respiratory problems plague replacements and crossbred cattle alike. Everything from transport, to grouping changes, to environmental challenges serve as stressors to the animal’s system. These stressors, particularly in young cattle, often manifest as Bovine Respiratory Disease (BRD) – commonly thought to be the most widespread and visible affliction across the cattle industry. In the past, the only options for treatment were antibiotics or medicated products – all of which required veterinary prescription and carried meat and milk withdrawals. Enter AccelAIRate Our response to respiratory challenges for dairy to beef and everything in between, AccelAIRate is an all-natural solution to BRD. AccelAIRate helps to: • alleviate symptoms of respiratory disease • support the recovery process of respiratory distress • maintain animal health status AccelAIRate is composed of essential oils, herb extracts, bioactive compounds and antioxidants – meaning NO withdrawal period and NO prescription needed. This unique formulation of advanced technology backed by research, allows for a simple, short-term feeding protocol or for a longer duration if that is what fits an operation’s management. Trial by Fire In a trial of 300 beef x dairy animals, half were supplemented with 7.5 g/head per day as a top-dress protocol on dry feed for seven days. The supplemented group experienced no respiratory disease and showed improved growth over the control group. On the first week, the supplemented group gained 0.26 lb/head/day more than the control group – and 1 lb/head/day more than the control group by the third week! Long story short, AccelAIRate helps to improve body weight gains for three weeks following a seven-day supplementation protocol. Note, in this study, progress was not monitored beyond three weeks.

A separate palatability study on 200 dairy replacements showed no palatability challenges when the product is mixed with milk, and also demonstrated a noticeable respiratory health improvement. Whether adding to whole milk, milk replacer, water, or dry feed, AccelAIRate offers support to Actively Improve Respiration in dairy, beef, or beef x dairy cattle. Contact Jill Strangstalien, to learn more about this novel solution for your herds! u

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“Our goal is to produce all-around high-quality cows that are healthy, efficient, high-producing animals,” says Mark Qual, a third-generation dairy farmer from Lisbon, North Dakota. He and his family manage a 1,400-cow dairy and a 7,000-acre grain farm, consistently utilizing cutting-edge technology and looking for ways to improve the businesses. Shortly after returning from World War II, Mark’s grandfather established a small dairy and grain farm, just south of Lisbon, North Dakota. The second generation included three sons, two of which are still active members of the farm’s management team. Today, Qual Dairy Inc. and Qual Grain are owned, managed and operated by Mark, his father Alan, uncle Rod, brother Jon, and two cousins, Tyler and Nathan. Together, the family manages about 22 employees between the two businesses.

Cow-side goals and sustainability The 1,400 Holsteins that make up Qual Dairy’s milking herd are milked via a 60-stall robotic rotary parlor. The herd is currently made up of 41% first lactation, 29% second lactation and 30% third and greater lactation cows. “Our goal is to produce all-around high-quality cows that are healthy, efficient, high-producing animals,” says Mark. “We want animals that produce high quality milk and meat while using resources in the most efficient way possible.” Fitness traits affecting animal longevity are very important to Mark, so he pays close attention to Herd Health Profit Dollars™ (HHP$™) and Dairy Wellness Profit Index® (DWP$®) when selecting sires for the dairy’s lineup.

“The different weighting that was used to make the HHP$ index is closer to the strengths that I am looking for in creating better animals,” says Mark. When compared to other industry indexes, HHP$ includes a greater balance of improvement in both fat and protein yields as well as emphasis on mastitis resistance, udder conformation traits and the Council on Dairy Cattle Breeding’s evaluation for feed efficiency. “It will definitely be a main index that I use when considering sires going forward.”

Cover Photo: Mark Qual walks through the freestall barn at Qual Dairy Inc. in Lisbon, North Dakota. 12 u

Cover photo and photos on this page © Joe Dickie Photography, Midwest Dairy

Along with HHP$ and DWP$, Mark keeps an eye out for sires with Select Sires’ FeedPRO® designation. “We want our animals to be as efficient as possible, especially with the high costs of various feedstuffs,” says Mark. The current sire roster for Qual Dairy includes a mixture of proven and NxGEN® sires – 7HO14454 LIONEL, 7HO15913 KAHN, 14HO15932 CUMULUS, 250HO15988 SOYSAUCE, 7HO16078 SEAR, 7HO16126 LAFFEY, 14HO15876 KELBY, 7HO15937 ESQUIRE and 7HO16103 CHEW-P. All these sires are above +$975 HHP$ and +$900 DWP$, and nearly a majority qualify for the FeedPRO designation. The Select Mating Service® (SMS®) and Select Reproductive Solutions® (SRS®) teams at Minnesota/Select Sires play an important role in facilitating genetic change at Qual Dairy. The SMS team is responsible for mating the cows and heifers using the sire lineup that Mark compiles, while the SRS team examines data from the dairy to analyze how the reproductive performance can be improved. “Both teams are always available if I have any questions or concerns, and they are huge assets to our reproductive successes,” says Mark. Mark has plans to continue expanding the herd internally in the coming years, so creating healthy, longer-living animals is essential to him. Mark says that while there will need to be some updates made to facilities around the farm, the genetic goal will remain the same: keep making each generation better than the previous one. u


Herd Health Profit Dollars™ is a new tool to help producers create healthy, longer-living cattle in their herds. Emphasis on components, mastitis resistance, udder depth, teat size and placement are a few traits that are included to help boost your herd’s profitability!

A better cow for a better future. Balanced improvement in both fat and protein yield

Shallow udders with intermediate optimums for teat size and rear teat placement

Strong emphasis on mastitis resistance traits

Health-focused index that can be used to rank heifers in herds that perform genomic testing, but don’t test with Zoetis or don’t have CLARIFIDE® Plus results

Allows for comparisons with all active Holstein sires

Includes the new CDCB feed efficiency evaluations to moderate body size and efficiently convert feed into milk

PROVEN HHP$ LEADERS 7HO14454 7HO14229 7HO14451 14HO14636 250HO14134 7HO14438


1,167 1,099 1,087 1,043 1,037 1,027

Contact your Select Sires representative today to protect your herd's health and your bottom line!

YOUNG HHP$ LEADERS 7HO15807 7HO15977 250HO16257 7HO16148 14HO16393 14HO16036 14HO15926 7HO16067 7HO16176 7HO16163


1,276 1,275 1,258 1,258 1,255 1,251 1,247 1,238 1,235 1,233

*Denotes NxGEN® sires

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OPPORTUNITIES AND CHALLENGES Larry Corah, Ph.D., Supply Chain Consultant

Historically, the dairy and beef industries change very slowly. Yes, each year we add a few pounds of milk produced per dairy cow and a few pounds of extra weaning weight per beef cow - but change is slow. The exception certainly has been the rapid adoption of use of beef semen in dairy cows. In five short years we have moved from marketing Holstein steers to, by the end of 2022, having beef x dairy (BxD) cross calves replacing 70% of the Holstein steers in the fed cattle harvest mix. That is an amazing change.

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Why did that occur so quickly?

Are there challenges?

The main reason given is the dramatic increase in use of sexed semen by dairy producers. Yes, that left a lot of uterine space for beef semen, but another big reason was the fact that three of the four major packers quit harvesting Holstein steers, putting great pressure on the Holstein steer market value. If you ask dairy producers how that transition is going, most will say “great.” The day-old Holstein steer selling for $40-60 has been replaced by a BxD cross calf selling for $200-250, making it a new profit center for most dairy operations. At a feeder weight of about 500 to 600 lbs., the BxD cross calf is about $12-15/cwt below a beef calf of the same weight, but the Holstein steer is $40/cwt below, according to data from Superior Livestock and Kansas State. Economics drive change and it is easy to see why use of beef genetics has been adopted so widely and rapidly by dairy operations.

The quick answer is yes. While most packers have continued their disinterest in the Holstein steer, they are also mostly lukewarm to the BxD cross, often creating marketing problems. This is due to two areas of concern - liver abscesses and reduced red meat yields. The concerns have reached the point that many packers today discount the BxD fed animal $20-50/head. It is now to the point that some packers will only buy the fed BxD animal if it comes from what is called program cattle, where they know superior genetics were used and can be verified.

Is there something a dairy producer could do on the front end to address these issues? The liver abscess problem is tough because there is no easy solution, and there is still research underway to pinpoint the mechanisms of infection. What can be offset is the red meat yield issue. The first way to address red meat yield would be through the breed of beef semen used. Today, because of the impact of Angus branded programs, about 60% of the beef semen used is Angus genetics. Using heavier muscled breeds like Charolais or Limousin or even Simmental could offer some improvement. The drawback is, because BxD fed cattle need to be sold on a grid, these cattle will generally not grade as well, and many will not qualify for the Angus brands. I would suggest an even better way to address the issue would be to utilize beef semen that will create excellent carcass quality when hung on the rail. Remember there are four key USDA Quality Grade levels - Prime, Premium Choice (CAB), Choice and Select. The higher quality grades are worth considerably more money, and not by a small amount.

For example, today a Prime grading carcass is worth $17/ cwt more than a Choice grading carcass. For a 900 lb. carcass that is $150-160 premium applied to that carcass. With dairy producers selecting their beef genetics for Marbling, which is a highly heritable trait, up to 20-25% of the BxD cross carcasses can achieve Prime. For those that don’t quite grade Prime, qualifying for Premium Choice and Certified Angus Beef® can also bring an extra $15-17/cwt over a Low Choice grading carcass. By selecting for Marbling, 40-50% of the BxD carcasses can qualify for the Certified Angus brand. These premiums will add value to the day-old calf and can be accomplished easily by simply using well marbled beef genetics. My take is that these quality grade premiums can offset any discounts, from a liver abscess or yield grade perspective, that may be applied to the average BxD carcass. Yet one more opportunity not well utilized today, but likely one that will grow, is putting beef embryos in dairy cows rather than beef semen. For more information about SimVitro® HerdFlex®, visit and select HerdFlex from the Genetics drop down menu, or scan the QR code. Yes, there are challenges but the added economic value the BxD cross calf has created will make this a management practice that is here to stay. If you’re interested in hearing more about BxD marketing opportunities, listen to episode three of The Select Sires Podcast. u

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PAID Minster, Ohio 45865 Permit No. 2


11740 US 42 NORTH • PLAIN CITY • OHIO • 43064-0143

To enhance the productivity and profitability of dairy and beef producers, Select Sires is committed to be the premier provider of highly fertile, superior genetics accompanied by effective reproductive- and herdmanagement products and services. For more information, visit or call (614) 873-4683.

Product of the USA.

All gender SELECTED™ semen is processed using Ultraplus™ 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. for additional details. Herd Health Profit Dollars, HHP$ and gender SELECTED are trademarks of Select Sires Inc. Ultraplus is a trademark of STGen LLC. ®NxGEN, FeedPRO, ProfitSOURCE, Select Mating Service, SMS, Select Reproductive Solutions, SRS and Your Success Our Passion. are registered trademarks of Select Sires Inc. Dairy Wellness Profit Index, DWP$ and CLARIFIDE are registered trademarks of Zoetis Inc., its affiliates and/or its licensors. CowManager is a registered trademark of Agis Automatisering. Total Performance Index (TPI) is a registered trademark of Holstein Association USA. Certified Angus Beef and CAB are registered trademarks of Certified Angus Beef LLC. Simplot, SimVitro and HerdFlex are registered trademarks of the J.R. Simplot Company. All rights reserved. Buyer assumes all responsibility for use, storage and handling of herd management products. All claims, representations, and warranties, expressed or implied, are made only by the company responsible for manufacturing and not by Select Sires Inc., its member cooperatives, its agents or employees. KAHN, VAN GOGH and IBENDIGO photos by THOMAS. All bulls listed in this issue qualify for semen export to Canada, except WILDWOOD and WELD. 7 and 507 = Select Sires, 14 = Accelerated Genetics, 250 = GenerVations ™

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