Selections | Spring 2022

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HONORING A LEGACY, PREPARING FOR A SUSTAINABLE FUTURE David C. Thorbahn, president and C.E.O. This edition of Selections showcases the many facets of sustainability. From genetic development to heifer replacement management to environmental impacts – sustainability can take shape in many forms. While the most traditional definition centers on land, air and water, Select Sires is redefining this buzz word. We are emphasizing the genetic traits and indexes that create healthier, longer-living and feed efficient cows. This focus results in a lower carbon, water and methane footprint per glass of milk to help farmer-owners improve sustainability and profitability that creates opportunities for future generations. In addition to our genetic direction, we’d be remiss if we didn’t mention the importance of leadership in the sustainability narrative. Without expert leadership throughout our history, Select Sires could not have experienced such success and longevity. The late George Miller was extremely influential to Select Sires’ innovative culture of service. We are humbled to honor George’s accomplishments while supporting future leaders by establishing the George Miller Memorial Scholarship fund.

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George joined the staff at Select Sires Inc. in 1973 and worked as the cooperative’s marketing manager for many years before retiring in 1991. He was a pillar of Select Sires, known by his passion for genetics, the Holstein cow, and his Select Sires family. His desire to support breeders with the very best genetics was his life’s mission. Throughout the years, George’s love for the people of this cooperative provided the spirit and culture that our organization holds today. He was a natural leader and built a remarkable foundation for Select Sires. George grew up helping on his uncle’s dairy farm, the birthplace of the famed 7HO58 Round Oak Rag Apple ELEVATION (EX-96-GM). He went on to attend Virginia Polytechnic Institute to earn a bachelor’s degree in animal husbandry and a master’s degree in dairy science. Throughout his lifetime, George was an advocate for youth agriculture organizations and fostering the development of future leaders. Shortly after George’s passing in February 2021, Select Sires assembled a committee to explore opportunities to honor George’s legacy. The committee includes: Jeff Ziegler and Lyle Kruse of Select Sires Inc., Eric Olstad of Zoetis, Dr. Katharine Knowlton of Virginia Tech, and John Schouten, former chief executive officer of World Wide Sires. The inaugural George Miller Memorial Scholarship will be awarded in 2023. Considering George’s passion for elite genetics, it is fitting that this youth scholarship will be funded by sales from 7HO15807 GEORGE MILLER, a recently released NxGEN® sire. u











7HO15977 HAYK





14HO15932 CUMULUS New










250HO15872 IBENDIGO New










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THE GENETIC STRATEGY TO IMPROVE SUSTAINABILITY Chuck Sattler, vice president of genetic programs, Select Sires Inc.

The U.S. dairy industry has made remarkable environmental progress over time and has a tremendous story to tell about sustainability and doing more with less. When comparing 2017 to 2007, U.S. producers needed 25.2% fewer cows, 17.3% less feed, 20.8% less land and 34.1% less water to produce one ton of energy-corrected milk. A lot of this progress is due to steady rates of genetic improvement and the capability of making more milk per cow.

Measuring sustainability and environmental impact can be complicated. However, the basic principle is quite straightforward. Improved efficiency can be achieved in four ways:    

Making more product Making product faster Using fewer animals Using fewer inputs

When thinking about sustainability, our minds often skip directly to improving production and improving feed efficiency. While improved milk and component yield of our cows is a big part of the industry’s success story, this was possible because selection programs did not just focus on improving production traits but also included traits needed by cows to sustain increased production over multiple lactations. The recent addition of PTAs for Feed Saved and Residual Feed Intake (RFI) provide new tools and new opportunities to further reduce a cow’s environmental footprint. However, we should recognize these tools are a work in progress and currently have low accuracy. Improvement from these tools will initially be small as the industry works to gather more individual cow feed intake data. It’s easy to see how production traits and feed efficiency help herds harvest more product or harvest the same amount of product with fewer inputs. The principles of harvesting more from each animal can be extended to traits like health and fertility to highlight their role in improving sustainability. Cow fertility Selecting for improved cow fertility using traits like Daughter Pregnancy Rate (DPR) or Cow Conception Rate (CCR) prepares herds to have a higher percentage of cows in peak lactation, a lower percentage of stale cows and fewer reproductive failures that require forced culling. These fertility traits allow us to produce more product and do it with fewer animals since fewer replacement heifers are needed.

Health traits A similar argument can be made for genetic improvement of health traits. Mastitis resistance is the leading candidate because of its prevalence, but this also applies to metabolic disease and respiratory disease. Improved resistance to these health events means fewer unproductive cows in the sick pen and fewer cows dying. Once again, emphasis on these traits require fewer replacement heifers to achieve similar production yields. Calf and heifer management Calf health and Heifer Conception Rate (HCR) traits are also important contributors to improved sustainability. Emphasis on calf health will translate to higher heifer completion rates, meaning a lower percentage of the herd is non-producing heifers and a larger percentage of calves can be allocated for beef production. More beef calves can help produce more product and add revenue sources to dairy operations. Being mindful to HCR will ensure that healthy, fertile heifers reach the milking string at younger ages and help make product faster. Reducing death loss and reproductive failures in heifers will lessen the inputs needed for heifer raising. The bottom line The dairy industry has a rich history as being responsible stewards of the environment. It is as important for us to share this story as it is to continue to build on these gains. To meet the demands of a growing population, genetic improvement needs to emphasize a broad range of traits including improved fertility and disease resistance. To ensure your genetic strategy aligns with sustainability goals, talk with your Select Sires representative today. u REFERENCES Capper, J. L., R. A. Cady. 2020. The effects of improved performance in the U.S. dairy cattle industry on environmental impacts between 2007 and 2017. J. Animal Science 98:1-14.

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USING HHP$ TO ENHANCE YOUR RETURN ON INVESTMENT Shane Boettcher, key client specialist, Minnesota/Select Sires Cooperative, Inc.

What qualities make a profitable cow? I believe most dairy producers would give similar answers. “We want healthy, high-producing, reproductively efficient cows that last.” Knowing that answer as the goal is just the first step. Next, we must determine how to create that type of cow and hone in on the right traits. Do we want high-producing cows with no concern for low butterfat and protein content? A resounding “no” comes from the dairy farms that I visit. As milk processors continue to increase the price to haul milk, farmers can’t afford to pay for hauling water. We want cows that produce high volumes of fat and protein (solids). We understand what makes a cow reproductively efficient. No matter how you measure it, pregnancy rate, calving interval, days open, or services per conception, we want cows that breed back soon after the voluntary waiting period (VWP) and calve consistently in the same month every year. What about longevity? It takes nearly two lactations for a cow to repay her heifer raising costs, so it’s important to create cows that have the highest return on investment potential. We all want healthy cows but has anyone ever considered how important a healthy cow is to a dairy’s bottom line? Below is a snapshot of the cost of some common illnesses and disorders. The economics related to these illnesses are important to determine your most profitable cow. Consider my example in Figure 2 for two cows using $18/cwt milk and the values from Figure 1. Figure 1

Incidence per Lactation Range

Cost ($) per Case

Culling Risk1 (%)

Displaced Abomasum

3-5% 1, 2, 3, 4, 13

$494 4



5-4% 1, 3, 4, 13

$117-289 4, 5



10-48% 2, 4, 6, 13

$117-469 4, 7

16.0 2


12-40% 1, 2, 3, 4, 8, 13

$155-224 4, 8, 9




1, 3, 10, 11, 13


10, 11


Retained Placenta


1, 2, 3, 4, 11, 12


4, 12


Cow 1

Figure 2

Milk Produced

Cow 2

28,434 lbs.

35,651 lbs.

Health Events


Retained Placenta - 1 Metritis - 1 Mastitis - 1 Lameness - 1




Under these conditions, Cow 1 was a more profitable cow even though she produced 7,217 fewer pounds of milk. I don’t consider Cow 2 to be an atypical cow for our herds today and at first glance I would have said that the cow producing 7,217 more pounds of milk would be more profitable, but I had never done the math. Doing so is incredibly compelling and brought to light the economic importance of healthy cows. Take this one step further and focus on one very costly health event - mastitis. Thirty-two percent of U.S. dairy cows experience clinical mastitis. With all the advancements made in milking equipment, prep routine and teat dips, this is still an alarming rate. With the production levels some of our cows are achieving, I’m not confident that any products or technology can thwart this rate. Improvement is going to have to come from within the cow, genetically.

REFERENCES 1 Gröhn YT, et al. Effect of Diseases on the Culling of Holstein Dairy Cows in New York State. Journal Dairy Sci 1998;81(4):966-978. 2 USDA.Dairy 2007, Part II: Charges in the U.S. Dairy Cattle Industry, 1991—2007 USDA-APHIS-VS. CEAH. Fort Collins, CO. 2008. #N481.0311. 3 Bar D., et al. Effect of repeated episodes of generic clinical mastitis on milk yield in dairy cows. Journal Dairy Sci 2007;90(10):4643-4653. 4 Guard C. 2009. The costs of common diseases of dairy cattle. Central Veterinary Conference Proceedings. Kansas City, MO. 5 McArt J.A., et al. 2015, Hyperketonemia in early lactation dairy cattle: a deterministic estimate of component and total cost per case. J of Dairy Sci 2015;98(3):2043-2054. 6 Bicalho RC. Lameness in Dairy Cattle: A debilitating disease or a Disease of Debilitated Cattle? Western Dairy Management Conference, 2011;73-83. 7 Cha E, et al. The cost of different types of lameness in dairy cows calculated by dynamic programming. Preventive Veterinary Medicine 2010;97(1):1-8. 8 Cha E, et al. Optimal insemination and replacement decisions to minimize the cost of pathogen-specific clinical mastitis in dairy cows. Journal Dairy Sci 2014;97(4):2101-2117. 9 Cha E, et al. The cost and management of different types of clinical mastitis in dairy cows estimated by dynamic programming. Journal Dairy Sci 2011;94(9):4476-4487. 10 Overton M, Fetrow J. Economics of postpartum uterine health, in Proceedings. Dairy Cattle Reproduction Council Convention 2008;39-44. 11 The Value of Uterine Health: the Diseases, the Causes, and the Financial Implications. Dairy Cattle Reproduction Council. 12 Guard C. Retained Placenta: Causes and Treatments. Advances in Dairy Technology 1999;11:81. 13 Zwald NR, Weigel KA, Chang YM, Welper RD, Clay JS. Genetic Selection of Health Traits Using Producer-Recorded Data. I. Incidence Rates, Heritability Estimates, and Sire Breeding Values. J of Dairy Sci 2004;87:4287-4294.

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What can we do as a genetics company to not only control mastitis, but in turn create more revenue generating opportunities by doing so? When focus is placed on a specific genetic trait, we can make incredible advancements in performance related to this trait. The Holstein breed has placed more emphasis on Daughter Pregnancy Rate (DPR) in recent years and because of this we are seeing breed increases in many reproductive performance indicators. Imagine if we placed more emphasis on mastitis resistance? Well, we have done that for you at Select Sires through a new index. Herd Health Profit Dollars™ (HHP$™) places strong emphasis on health traits, particularly mastitis resistance (CDCB MAST) and Somatic Cell Score (SCS), which receive a relative emphasis of 19% in the formula compared to only 5% in TPI® and 3% in Net Merit (NM$). Another distinguishing feature of HHP$ is that some emphasis is placed on udder traits. HHP$ strives for shallower udders with an intermediate approach to teat size and rear teat placement. HHP$ includes the latest genetic information from CDCB on feed efficiency, however, it uses a slightly different approach from other industry indexes. HHP$ includes negative weighting for stature and Residual Feed Intake (RFI) to genetically improve feed efficiency, but it does not reward animals that rank low for Strength or high for Dairy Form. To be profitable and sustainable, dairies must leverage genetics by breeding for productive, trouble-free cows that last well beyond their third lactation. Nonetheless, it’s important to understand that avoiding mastitis and maintaining low cell counts is a significant challenge for cows in their third or greater lactation. HHP$ prioritizes selection for mastitis resistance and is designed to create profitable, longer-lasting cows. As you consider the future and potential for sustaining the next generation, your herd’s genetic profile can be a significant factor. By emphasizing health and wellness genetics, you can secure better profit margins – regardless of the milk market. HHP$ is not just another selection index. It is an innovative tool that can bring immense value to your dairy and help sustain the operation for years to come. u

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

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OPPORTUNITIES TO REDUCE HERD TURNOVER COSTS Lyle Kruse, vice president of U.S. market development, Select Sires Inc.

Based on extensive dairy financial research conducted by Compeer Financial and Zoetis, herd turnover costs are one of the six key metrics for dairy profitability1. In recent years, many progressive dairies in the U.S. have made great strides in reducing herd turnover costs with reduced rearing of excess heifers. This practice should eventually lead to less “forced culling” of productive and profitable older cows just to make room for a promising young cow.

The cost of cow turnover is not just the difference between replacement heifer costs and the value of a cull cow. Consider the productivity potential of the animal being removed compared with a new cow. First lactation cows produce 15 percent less milk than second lactation cows and 25 percent less than third lactation cows. Replacing a healthy, older cow with a first-lactation animal represents a significant loss in current productivity and individual animal cash flow. I have had the opportunity to analyze dairy software files from dairy operations across many states in the U.S. and I still see great opportunity to reduce herd turnover costs within many dairy operations. Here are a few areas to consider as you look at how to plan for your future replacement costs: Reducing newborn heifer losses Let’s start at the very beginning and take action to reduce newborn heifer loss. While the dairy industry has made great strides in the last decade to reduce calf loss from live birth to the first two weeks of age, this continues to be the stage in calf life with the highest percentage of heifer calf loss and there remains great potential for improvement within many dairy operations. Along with elevated heifer loss in the early days of their developmental life, there is also the potential for permanent damage to lung capacity for heifers compromised by pneumonia, leading to heifers who never reach their genetic potential for milk production and herd life. There is a two-pronged approach to reducing newborn heifer loss: genetics and management. Before a heifer calf hits the ground, farmers can invest in elite health and wellness sires that equip these calves with genetics to combat health challenges. Genetic research and development has opened up many doors to traits specific to calf health and wellness, from Zoetis’ allencompassing Calf Wellness Index™ (CW$™) to more individual traits like Calf Respiratory Disease, Calf Scours and Heifer Livability. Management is the second key in reducing heifer loss and Select Sires has a broad portfolio of products that can both protect young calves and help them overcome sickness. To learn more about these products, scan the QR code: REFERENCES 1 Zoetis and Compeer Financial’s analysis of 11 years of herd data from 489 year-end financial and production record summaries identified six key drivers of profitability on dairies based on net farm income, or NFI (NFI over 11 years averaged $1.23/cwt.1). Herds that perform well in these areas achieve healthier cows, higher profits and greater staying power, lactation after lactation. Somatic Cell Counts, Energy-corrected Milk per Cow, Death Losses, Net Herd Turnover Costs Pregnancy Rates, Heifer Survival.

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Reduce replacement heifers non-completion rate My second suggestion for reducing herd turnover cost comes from a broad perspective of dairy analysis. Dairy heifer noncompletion rate (N/C rate) is defined as the percentage of heifers born alive that leave the herd before their first calving. In the summer of 2021, I collected N/C rate data from our vast team of Select Sires reproductive and genetic consultants throughout the U.S. The data set included N/C rates from 330 progressive dairies averaging over 2,000 mature cows per operation from all regions in the U.S. From that extensive data set, the average heifer N/C rate was 13 percent. This data included a range of 4% up to more than 30 N/C rates. From birth to calving, a heifer must overcome many hurdles in order to enter the milking string and avoid being a part of the herd’s N/C rate. By managing these hurdles, farmers can reduce N/C rates, reduce herd turnover costs and in turn return more profit to the dairy. Opportunities in dairy heifer reproductive efficiency Traditionally, dairy heifers outpaced lactating cows in terms of reproductive efficiency, however in recent years, it is not uncommon to find dairy operations with annualized pregnancy rates in cows that exceed 30 percent. Based on data reports from many dairy operations, the pregnancy rate and reproductive efficiency in the replacement heifers have great opportunity for improvement. And as feed and labor costs have risen in recent months, the cost per day to feed a replacement heifer has also seen significant increases, adding more urgency to identify opportunities in streamlining heifer reproduction.

TIPS TO IMPROVE HEIFER REPRODUCTIVE EFFICIENCY For Holstein heifers, attempt to raise heifers that reach growth size and weight targets by 13 months of age with a very high percentage of these heifers already past puberty and cycling regularly. Often dairy operations with Jersey heifers will shoot for a 12-month target to have Jersey heifers ready for their first service.

Traditionally, 21-day pregnancy rate (PR) has been the key metric used to measure reproductive efficiency, which combines the percentage of heifer heats detected and the conception rates.

There is opportunity and good return on investment to expand use of automated monitoring systems, like CowManager® to improve heifer reproductive efficiency and improved insemination timing. Also, the selective use of hormone intervention can help improve heifer reproduction.

There is potential for an active debate about the best age for dairy heifers to calve for the first time. The most common target is 22-23 months of age, which requires age at first service of 13-14 months of age.

Achieving 21-day heifer pregnancy rates above 40 percent are attainable. Some herds are approaching 50 percent PR, even with a high percentage of sexed semen used for the first and second services.

Another opportunity I see today to manage heifer reproductive efficiency is to establish a specific cutoff age when heifers will be given the opportunity to get pregnant before they are culled from the operation. With the higher costs per day to feed replacements, this becomes even more critical to reduce herd replacement costs.

From my experience, in order to achieve reproductive efficiency in heifer groups, herds must set the proper age at first service and then be very aggressive to get every heifer serviced as close to that range as possible. Preferably, all heifers should be at the target age for first service within 40-45 days.

Another heifer reproductive metric I like to use is the days beyond the age at first service it takes to get 50 percent of the heifers pregnant. The top heifer reproduction operations are getting 50 percent of their heifers pregnant at less than 10 days.*

With our network of highly trained and experienced genetic and reproductive consultants, Select Sires is well equipped to help you manage herd turnover costs, including helping you reduce heifer noncompletion rates. For more information or a genetic and reproductive overview, please give us a call. u * This data is available in the Select Sires RePRO Analysis™ program that Select Sires consultants utilize to analyze genetic and reproductive records.

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3 STEPS TO SECURE HIGHER PREMIUMS FOR BEEF X DAIRY CATTLE Lauren Kimble, ProfitSOURCE supply chain logistics, Select Sires Inc.

No matter a dairy’s size, location, or breed preference, a beef x dairy (BxD) strategy is a viable source of profit. It is no secret that a beef-cross calf can bring over $100 more than a dairy calf. Previously, packers were pressed to sort through beef, dairy and beef-cross cattle. However, the recent influx of crosses into the U.S. beef supply chain has pushed packers to identify superior and inferior BxD cattle, too. In fact, as presented at the 2022 Midwest American Society of Animal Sciences (ASAS) meetings, BxD cattle of known, elite genetics strongly outperformed commodity BxD in average daily gain (ADG) and dry matter conversion in the feedlots, as well as in percentage of carcasses graded Choice on the rail. Cheap cleanup semen just won’t cut it anymore, but how do we ensure the packers know what they’re getting? How do we influence the chain so that these higher prices at the end of the line are reflected in what is paid to the dairy producer at the beginning? This is where Select Sires’ ProfitSOURCE® program comes into play. The program emphasizes three key needs to garner the best return on your investment. From calf care at birth, identification and record-keeping for confident traceability and strategic partners for secure market access, ProfitSOURCE is the industry’s most complete program for value-added BxD and straight-bred beef embryos.


Calf Care ProfitSOURCE BxD calves have an edge over commodity calves when it comes to care. Proper colostrum management means a more vigorous immune system for life and lower risk assumed by the calf ranches. ProfitSOURCE calf care requirements build trust, so the premiums paid by the calf buyer to the dairies remain high. For more information about Select Sires’ elite BxD calf care products, check out the Herd Management Solutions portfolio referenced on page 6.


Traceability Program calves have a significant advantage over commodity calves in traceability. Herds enrolled in specific supply chain programs enter calf EID and parentage, and calves are then known through their lifetime. As consumers demand the farm-to-table story, our partners are willing to pay more for a calf of known, elite genetics. What’s more, we can use data collected throughout each calf’s lifetime to determine how our genetics perform, whether it’s health, efficiency or carcass merit. This in turn allows us to build an elite lineup of BxD genetics tailored to both the dairy and our partners’ needs.

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Market Access Supply chains are not one-size-fits-all. ProfitSOURCE offers many options to fit the needs of the dairy and make the most out of each pregnancy. Whether it be enrolling in a defined supply chain, or using our elite genetics independently and selling on the open market, ProfitSOURCE has an option to complement each dairy. Remember, our unique partnerships set us apart from the rest of the industry and provide consistent market access for the long haul – so if your dairy is located in a region of the U.S. where a program is available, it is a strong option. Not to worry, though – the ProfitSOURCE tags are recognized on the open market too, with calves performing well everywhere from local sale barns to Superior Livestock video auction. u

Power Genetics is available to Holstein herds in the Great Lakes region and features a SimAngus™ sire lineup and a new competitive pricing contract. Power Genetics has great packer access at Cargill, marketing 5,000 head per week on their own grid.

TD Beef features our most elite lineup of terminal genetics. Calves are purchased as day-olds and raised at Tuls and LoneStar Calf Ranches before finishing at Friona Industries, and selling on the grid at Cargill. Due to Cargill’s and Friona’s interest in sustainability and traceability, TD Beef has requirements for entry and sharing of calf data. The program is available in select regions to Holstein and Jersey herds. While enrolled dairies have the right to sell into the TD system, they are not obligated and may pursue other marketing options.

Superior Wagyu is an up-and-coming addition! This program will offer elite Wagyu genetics to Jersey herds with data-sharing and traceability of importance. This chain leads right to retail, with the final product marketed under sought-after brands such as Mishima Reserve brand.

We’ve started to link up Friona Industries with some of our herds who can raise their crossbreds to a higher weight as a direct-tofinisher marketing option. This also presents a great opportunity for herds interested in HerdFlex® embryos.

SimVitro® HerdFlex® embryos offer a new approach to generating high-performance beef calves on your dairy operation. With this IVF solution, you can get full-beef calves that have calving ease and deliver value through improved feed efficiency, rate of gain, ribeye area and marbling. To discover if HerdFlex is a match for your operation, check out this episode of The Select Sires Podcast.

ProfitSOURCE sires have been selected for crossbreeding on Holsteins and Jerseys. These sires excel for calving ease, growth performance, carcass merit, and they offer elite fertility to maximize reproductive performance. The lineup of ProfitSOURCE sires will include elite terminal beef bulls designed to meet specific genetic criteria.

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BEAT THE HEAT WITH BEEF EMBRYOS Jeremy Howard, Simplot Animal Sciences

To remain profitable, a dairy must be effective at getting cows pregnant in a timely fashion. This can be particularly challenging during the summer due to the effects of heat stress. It has been estimated that heat stress costs the dairy industry $1.5 billion each year in lost revenue due to reduced milk production and reproduction. During times of heat stress, reproductive rates can fall as much as 50 percent. Rising temperatures, humidity and solar radiation during the summer months are responsible for heat stress. Researchers have developed a temperature-humidity index (THI) to gauge the level of heat stress an animal experiences. The index is calculated using ambient temperature and relative humidity readings. Research indicates that a lactating dairy cow begins to experience heat stress when the THI meets or exceeds 70. A THI of 70 would correspond with 70°F at 100 percent humidity. How does heat stress affect your herd? Heat stress causes a reduction in fertility associated with oocyte quality. Impacts on oocyte quality can be observed for the next two to three heat cycles, which is why it takes a couple of months following the end of heat stress for reproductive rates to rebound. The oocytes are less fertile because of the exposure to heightened temperatures while they grow and reach maturity. Additionally, heat stress can impact reproductive rates by increasing early embryonic death. It has been shown that an embryo is highly susceptible to early embryonic death when heat stress occurs immediately following conception, thus reducing conception and pregnancy rates. Decrease heat stress effects To overcome the effects of heat stress, researchers have used assisted reproductive technologies such as superovulation and in-vitro fertilization (IVF). These technologies allow for the transfer of an embryo that is seven days of age. It has been found that at this point in development, the embryo is resistant to many of the effects of heat stress. Additionally, these technologies allow for the possibility of collecting embryos when there is no heat stress and preserving them for use in times of heat stress. Early research using embryo transfer indicated that embryos transferred during summer months were quite successful and resulted in pregnancies. Additional studies using either fresh superovulated embryos or IVF-produced embryos during times of heat stress have shown increased pregnancy rates when compared to A.I. Studies comparing cryopreserved and fresh embryos to A.I. are limited but have shown tremendous promise. In 2011, researchers at the University of Florida and Texas A&M University published a study comparing A.I. to fresh and vitrified IVF embryos. They found that fresh and vitrified embryos had higher pregnancy rates than those of A.I. • Animals receiving a fresh embryo achieved a pregnancy rate double that of A.I. (42.1 percent vs. 18.3 percent). • Animals receiving a vitrified embryo achieved a higher pregnancy rate compared to A.I. (29.3 percent vs. 18.3 percent). 1 10 u

Investigating embryo opportunities During the summer of 2019, Minnesota/Select Sires Cooperative, Inc. conducted the initial trials with SimVitro® HerdFlex® embryos to determine if full-beef embryos could be a profitable diversification option for dairy operations. The trial herd showed a boost in reproductive rates for the HerdFlex beef embryo group over the conventional beef semen group. During the summer heat stress period, the HerdFlex beef embryos exhibited more than 5% higher conception rates than conventional beef semen (See Table 1). Table 1: HerdFlex Beef Embryos vs. Beef Semen During Summer Heat Stress HerdFlex Embryos

Beef Semen

Number of Transfers/Breedings








Conception Rates

Traditionally, conventional embryo flushing and IVF have been used to increase the number of offspring from genetically superior animals, and the cost associated has been too high to implement in commercial dairies. However, more recently, IVF technology has been adapted, making embryos less expensive and more available to dairies. For herds honing in on their reproductive performance during hot seasons, HerdFlex beef embryos can be a profitable solution. In addition to fertility performance, full-beef embryos can lead to greater opportunities in the beef market. As with any decision, a cost-benefit analysis should be performed to determine if this technology is right for your operation. Contact your local Select Sires representative today to review your goals and decide if HerdFlex can bring more value to your dairy. u

INTERPRETING LINEAR PROFILES NEGATIVE VALUES AREN’T ALWAYS A BAD THING Kevin Jorgensen, senior sire analyst, Select Sires Inc. Rick VerBeek, senior sire analyst, Select Sires Inc.

Historically, dairy farmers have viewed negative Standard Transmitting Abilities (STAs) as just that – negative and undesirable. The phrase “left-sided linear” carries a poor or bad connotation. Often times, sires with these types of linear profiles are pushed to the wayside and not used in breeding programs. Farmers pose a valid question, “Why would I use a bull with a negative linear?” To address this concern, let’s look at industry-wide herd goals. Throughout the U.S. and around the world, many dairy farmers aim to reduce body size or slow the increasing trend for stature. To achieve this, sires with negative linear evaluations for traits like Stature (ST), Strength (SR) and Thurl Width (TW), will be instrumental. With the most ideal mating, sires with negative linears can greatly influence phenotypic progress in these herds. There’s a lot to consider when looking at linear evaluations in sire selection. First, it is important to familiarize yourself with linear classification scores. Next, we’ll dive into bell curves and standard deviations to better interpret the linear bar charts and make comparisons to the phenotypic performance - what you will see in the barn and milking parlor. And finally, it’s paramount to consider the influence of base changes and the need to reset perspective. Understanding linear classification scores Holstein classifiers evaluate 18 individual type traits using a linear scoring system to describe or measure each trait. They use a scale of 1-50 to assign a numeric score to each trait rating them from one extreme to the other. For some traits like Rump Angle and Leg Side View, a 25 is considered desirable. These scores are the foundation of the information used to calculate the genetic evaluations for type traits, which are expressed as STAs. Linear Score of 1 = 50-inch cow Linear Score of 25 = 55-inch cow Linear Score of 35 = 57-inch cow Linear Score of 50 = 60-inch cow Transforming linear scores to STAs Those linear scores are then put into a genetic evaluation and displayed as STAs. For linear type traits, STAs are generally expressed on a scale from -3 standard deviations to +3 standard deviations with 0 defined as the average for the base birth year population. There is a 68 – 95 – 99.7 rule when understanding STAs, meaning 68 percent of the values fall within 1 standard deviation of the mean, 95 percent of the values fall within 2 standard deviations of the mean, and about 99.7 percent of the values fall within 3 standard deviations of the mean. On the bell curve and in Select Sires’ linear trait bar charts, this means that half of the population will have a negative number and half the population will have a positive number. Simply put, a negative or left-side linear isn’t conventionally bad, but instead further evaluation and consideration of herd goals and phenotypic performance is important.

The influence of base changes Don’t forget that linear evaluations are subject to base changes. The current STAs are based on the average PTAs of cows born in 2015. Base changes occur every five years and show the genetic change over that time frame. Most recently, we noted the change from 2010 to 2015. The 2020 base change revealed that cows born in 2015 were Base Changes much larger than cows born in 2010 2020 2015 2010 and the linear evaluations for ST, SR, ST .47 .81 .70 Body Depth (BD) and TW reflected SR .20 .36 .45 this increase. The 2020 base change BD .14 .47 .57 shows the trend for increased size is TW .36 .61 .53 slowing, but it is still increasing. To moderate size in the cow herd, key-in to these linear frame evaluations. For example, when mating a breed average cow to a sire with a -2.00 STA for Stature, farmers can expect the mature daughter to be around 57 inches tall. Average Mature Daughter Score Corresponding to Linear Type Trait STA of Sire when Mated to Breed Average Cows (Source: Holstein USA) Linear Type Trait

-3.00 -2.00 -1.00 0.00 +1.00 +2.00 +3.00

















Body Depth








Dairy Form








Rump Angle








Rump Width








We have to reset our expectations of what the STAs represent, especially for frame traits. How we interpret a +1.00 STA today is much different than how it was interpreted 10 and 20 years ago. Research shows that a -2.00 Stature score in 2021 is nearly equivalent to a +1.00 STA from 2000 and similar comparisons can be made for other traits, including Strength and Body Depth. Not only does the genetic base change, but industry trends shift, herd goals evolve, culling preferences are modified and genetic technology advances. For more information about linear evaluations, contact your local Select Sires representative and discover how these “left-sided” linears can make phenotypic strides to meet your herd goals. u 11 u

NEW HEALTH INDEX CUSTOMIZED FOR JERSEYS Whether you’re diversifying with beef x dairy or simply right-sizing your heifer inventories to better fit your operational goals, you’re creating fewer replacements. Since 2018, USDA and NASS have reported a steady decline in heifer inventories. There are 2.84 million dairy heifers expected to calve in the next year. Divide this inventory by 9.38 million total milking cows and you’ll see that we have enough heifers to cull 30.3 percent of cows this year. Current culling rates average around 37 percent. To maintain herd size and production yields, we’ll need older cows to last a little longer. Select Sires’ focus on longevity and development of tools like Herd Health Profit Dollars™ (HHP$™) has been anticipating this need for reduced culling. First created for Holstein sire development, HHP$ is now customized for Jersey breeders. With a focus on health and longevity traits, the Jersey HHP$ index takes into account breed differences and market goals. For Jerseys, it is designed to boost protein yields while maintaining high fertility. While the Holstein version moderates body size, the Jersey version does not include emphasis on feed saved, residual feed intake or reduced body size. Similar to the Holstein HHP$, Jersey HHP$ places high emphasis on mastitis resistance. Mastitis continues to be very costly for dairy farmers and is also a leading reason for culling. It is important to make sure herd replacements are engineered to be mastitis resistant and trouble-free to remain in the herd longer and ultimately, achieve the greatest return on investment. u

2,840,000 springing heifers ÷ 9, 0,000 milking cows ________38 ______ ____________ 30.3% cull rate 30.3% future cull rate 37__ .0% ________ cu en__ t cu ____rr__ ra__ te __ __ll__ .... I’m going to ne ed my older cows to live longer To Do List: • choose sires that excel in health, wellness and fertili ty

HOW IS HHP$ CUSTOMIZED FOR THE JERSEY BREED? Designed to boost protein yield

Added focus on cow and heifer fertility traits, including DPR, CCR and HCR

Includes general conformation and udder depth along with intermediate optimums for teat length and rear teat placement

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

Emphasizes SCS and mastitis resistance traits

Allows for comparisons with all active Jersey sires

HOW DOES HHP$ COMPARE TO OTHER INDUSTRY INDEXES? “Jersey breeders are eager to effectively incorporate health and wellness into their sire selection strategy. HHP$ answers that call. It is built to focus on lifetime profitability by honing in on mastitis, fertility, type and udders while maintaining the high components that the Jersey cow is known for.” - Herby Lutz, Jersey sire analyst















Mastitis, SCS










Other Cow Health





Calving Ability





Calf Health















Based on the April 2022 index compositions.

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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! ™



14JE769 JX STONEY {3} 7JE1699 JX PINE {6}

702 686




623 587

14JE1712 JX BUTKUS {4}


801 756

7JE1913 ALCAN 550JE1947 JX CORSAIR {5}

674 673





7JE2000 MONSTER {6}-P


14JE1929 JX SKALSKI {5}-P


14JE1896 CHECKERS {6}





14JE1969 JAKE 507JE1985 GEPPETTO {6} 14JE2002 VOLANT

667 658 658

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. JX BUTKUS {4} and DABO-P are JNSC.

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GENETIC TOOLS TO MANAGE INCOME OVER FEED COSTS INSIGHTS INTO FEED EFFICIENCY Chuck Sattler, vice president of genetic programs, Select Sires Inc.

With inflation pressures increasing costs for nearly every industry, it’s never been more important for dairies to tightly manage income over feed costs. Selecting bulls for increased production is an obvious component of sustaining a high producing herd. But, there are additional traits that deserve consideration because they impact how effectively your dairy herd converts feed into milk.

While selection for improved production has always been a part of Select Sires’ sire development, we’ve had an explicit focus on feed efficiency since 2008. That’s when the FeedPRO® designation was introduced to highlight sires that excel in transmitting the combination of traits that maximize income over feed costs. The initial version of FeedPRO focused on production and body size as indicators of feed intake. The designation identified bulls that transmitted high production and moderate body size while maintaining fertility and body condition. Today, thanks to investments by USDA, the Foundation for Food and Agriculture Research and the Council on Dairy Cattle Breeding (CDCB), we have a new tool to add to sire selection that helps us do better. Recently, CDCB has begun publishing genetic evaluations for residual feed intake (RFI) that provide additional insight into how efficiently cows convert feed into milk. 14 u

These evaluations are based on data gathered at a handful of research herds in the U.S. and Canada that have taken detailed feed intake records on genomically tested cows. These efforts have produced a genomic evaluation reference population that includes more than 7,700 cows and grows each year. Thanks to the power of genomic selection technology, the genetic insights from this intensively studied reference population can be extended to all genomic-tested animals. Decoding RFI evaluations Genetic evaluations for RFI are expressed as predicted transmitting abilities (PTA) like other CDCB evaluations. PTA RFI are expressed in pounds of feed per lactation. Values for currently available bulls range from -250 to +250. Even though the reference population is small, RFI measurements have a moderate heritability of 19 percent. Based on these two factors, CDCB published

evaluations for RFI have a low but meaningful reliability. Genomic young sires have evaluation reliability of 20-25 percent while some older sires have reliability values over 50 percent. RFI is the difference between a cow’s actual feed intake and what she was expected to eat based on how much milk she produces, how much she weighs and whether she’s gaining or losing weight. RFI is basically how much feed is used for things other than body maintenance or producing milk. For this reason, lower values for RFI are preferred. Cows with low RFI will turn a higher percentage of their feed into milk and less of their feed into heat and manure. PTA values for RFI are a tool we can use along with production and body size traits to breed for cows that produce more income over feed costs. It is now routinely available on Select Sires’ website and included in tools like the FeedPRO designation, Herd Health Profit Dollars™ (HHP$™), Net Merit $ and TPI® indexes. With rising prices, managing income over feed costs has never been more important for improving farm profitability. Residual feed intake values provide an additional tool in breeding a herd of cows that more effectively convert feed into milk. u

Reduce feed costs, increase profitability and sustainability For the modern producer who is concerned about feed costs and wants to improve profitability and lower their carbon footprint with more efficient cattle. Increase production AND improve fertility FeedPRO optimizes the selection for increased production and daughter fertility. FeedPRO bulls are in the 90th percentile for CFP and in the 70th percentile for DPR. Increase production AND improve health FeedPRO sires are well above average for Mastitis Resistance, Wellness Trait Index® (WT$®) and Calf Wellness Index™ (CW$™).

What indexes and genetic tools currently incorporate RFI? FeedPRO designation

Net Merit $


Herd Health Profit Dollars (HHP$) Top RFI FeedPRO Sires RFI























REFERENCES CDCB-Reference-Sheet-Feed-Saved-12_2020.pdf ( CDCB changes to evaluation system (December 2021) | Council on Dairy Cattle Breeding (





FeedPRO +0.14

Moderate Cow Size = Efficiency Average stature of FeedPRO sires versus NM$ and TPI leaders

Visit our website to find more FeedPRO sires!

Scan the QR code or visit 15 u


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$, Select RePRO Analysis and gender SELECTED are trademarks of Select Sires Inc. Calf Wellness and CW$ are trademarks of Zoetis Inc., its affiliates and/or its licensors. JPI is a trademark of the American Jersey Cattle Association. Ultraplus is a trademark of STGen LLC. SimAngus is a trademark of the American Simmental Association. ®NxGEN, FeedPRO, ProfitSOURCE and Your Success Our Passion. are registered trademarks of Select Sires Inc. Wellness Trait Index, WT$, Dairy Wellness Profit Index, DWP$ 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. 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. GEORGE MILLER photo by THOMAS. All bulls listed in this issue qualify for semen export to Canada. 7 & 507 = Select Sires, 14 & 614= Accelerated Genetics, 250 & 550 = GenerVations ™