Selections | Summer 2022

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Transport yourself 18 months back in time. Could you have predicted that: u fuel prices would double? u the bull market (stock market) would become a bear market? u milk prices would be high, yet farm expense and inflation would be increasing even faster? While we can’t transport to the past or predict the future, we can challenge ourselves to be prepared. The most important question becomes: “How do I stabilize my operation in unstable economic times?” A collegiate advisor once said that when the world around you is unstable and panicking, your focus should be on your mission and strategic goal. My advisor discouraged any sort of shortcuts while refocusing on executing action items that will improve cash flow and overall profitability.

Your farmer-owned cooperative focuses on helping you improve cash flow in the short-term while equipping you with the best resources for the long-term. To achieve long-term success, we work alongside you, hone in on the details of your operation and prepare solutions. Our customized approach, specific to you and your herd will add value to your operation and stabilize your economic environment, even in the most unstable times. This edition of Selections highlights management solutions that improve overall herd success. Many of the articles mention tools that offer you valuable data to better manage cow health, nutrition, heat detection, and overall herd profitability. There’s lots of talk about cow longevity, but look at longevity more generally and in terms of generational longevity – the longevity of your farm, your family legacy. Healthy, longer-living cows and the best farm management practices influence the longevity of your farm and provide that stability for your family and your legacy. Your cooperative continues to grow, expand and lead with real-world solutions that drive cash flow. Contact your Select Sires representative so we can help you attain stability, sustainability and longevity in these uncertain economic times. u

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CHANGES YOU CAN MAKE TODAY TO INCREASE YOUR PROFIT Lyle Kruse, Vice President U.S. Market Development, Select Sires Inc. King Smith, Vice President Select Dairy Solutions, Select Sires Inc. Greg Collins, Select Dairy Solutions Data and Training Support, Select Sires Inc. In reviewing data from dairy operations across the U.S., we often see some missed opportunities to be more efficient with resources, especially as production and replacement rearing costs have risen significantly in recent months. Here are 10 changes that stand out as areas of opportunity for increased profit on your operation.


Know your replacement needs.

Despite the increased focus on herd inventory management in recent years, there are still some operations raising too many replacements. This provides the opportunity to reduce herd replacement costs, which is one of the key dairy profit indicators. A well-designed replacement plan includes utilizing the best combination of dairy and beef genetics with conventional semen, sexed semen or embryos to maximize genetic progress. This also generates the most profitable pregnancy outcome for each cow and heifer in the operation. Each operation demands a unique approach and your Select Sires trusted advisor team can help design a program and determine how many replacements you need to create each month.


Reduce replacement heifer losses.

Many dairy operations have heifer mortality losses prior to six months of age that exceed 5%. Along with losing heifers with promising genetic potential, poorly designed heifer programs can lead to increased health challenges that also hamper resulting performance potential as lactating cows. Along the way there are opportunities to improve calf health, including: facilities, sanitation, colostrum management and pre- and post-weaning nutrition. There are also genetic tools available to select for improved calf livability and wellness. Continue reading on page 4. 3 u

10 THINGS, continued...


Know your herd culling rate and work to reduce it if needed.

Record culling reasons accurately and then devise a plan to reduce each reason. If your herd culling rate is too high, consider sire selection that includes more health and fitness focus like Select Sires’ Herd Health Profit Dollars index™ (HHP$™). Specific genetic selection for mastitis and lameness can also be considered to reduce incidence levels in your operation. Many dairies have also invested in CowManager® for intuitive cow health alerts that allow early treatment - reducing recovery time and lost production.



Determine a pre-breeding culling plan for heifers.

If available, use genomic data to identify heifers that are unlikely to return the investment in their rearing costs and cull them from the operation. Using years of assembled genomic data compared to performance, it is clear that not every heifer deserves a future role on the dairy. Cull heifers that are health challenged – especially respiratory issues (more than three respiratory events). Use of lung ultrasound scans can help weed out health-compromised heifers.

Have a plan for the first service on cows and heifers.

While most dairy operations have a good plan in place for days in milk at first service for their cows, there are still operations with as many as 10% of their cows not bred for the first time within 100 days in milk. If this is an area of opportunity at your dairy, evaluate how cows get lost in your first service program. For heifers, this is often an overlooked area of management with opportunities for some operations to save significant investment in feed costs by reducing days open in heifers. Reducing days open in heifers starts with a good first service plan. Based on heifer development and age for heifers to calve, set a proper age at first service and 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. Weekly heifer pregnancy checks, followed by weekly pen moves to bring new heifers into the breeding pens are a good recipe for improving heifer reproductive efficiency. Target a goal of getting 85% of heifers pregnant within three services.


Increase heat detection rates for cows and heifers.

The best herds achieve 70% or greater heat detection rates for both cows and heifers, so it can be done. Achieving superior detection rates involves a highly compliant first service program for both cows and heifers, followed by intensive detection of follow-up services. • Using synchronization for some or all first services can also improve heat detection rates. • Develop an intervention plan for heifers without a first service within two heat periods (at approximately 42 days) after designated age at first service. • Continuous training on heat detection techniques with the technician team can help improve detection rates. You may also consider using a professional Select Sires technician. • Clean-up bulls for natural service are hard on cows, facilities, and a danger to your team, and typically create far fewer pregnancies than expected. • CowManager can significantly boost heat detection rates. • Increased genetic selection for Daughter Pregnancy Rate (DPR) and Heifer Conception Rate (HCR) can improve overall cow and heifer reproductive efficiency for future generations. 4 u


Review and update ‘do not breed’ (DNB) strategies for both cows and heifers.

Review your reproductive culling strategies for cows and heifers with your team on a regular basis and develop a target for how many repeat services is enough for your cows and heifers. Do not be reluctant to create reproductive culls (DNB) of open cows after multiple services. Getting an average production cow pregnant after 200 days in milk usually leads to a cow that is not producing enough milk to pay for her cost of production and yet is not far enough along in gestation to go to the dry pen. Many dairy operations do not have a good plan in place for determining heifer reproductive culls and there are often heifers with more than five unsuccessful breeding attempts. Once you have coded a heifer as a reproduction cull, quickly move them out of breeding pens and down the road.


Fine tune cow culling to avoid feeding unprofitable cows.

With rapid surges in costs, review culling strategies often, even on a weekly basis. If you use DairyCOMP 305, make use of the CwVal item. This includes making monthly updates to the metrics that are unique to your operation to customize the CwVal ranking data, which can help you make more informed culling decisions.


Overstocking pens can often waste resources.

Each pen and dairy operation has a tipping point for stocking density that can impair production, health and reproductive efficiency, especially with cows that are early in lactation and not yet pregnant. Periods of heat stress greatly increase the challenges with overstocking.


Prioritize investments.

With current milk prices, there may be opportunities to invest in improvements in the operation. Work with your local Select Sires team to determine areas of improvement in cow comfort and herd management that will have the biggest impact on future profits, such as: • enhanced heat abatement for all lactating cows, • new or improved facilities for dry cows, fresh cows, and heifers, • an investment in an automated monitoring system. Connect with your local Select Sires trusted advisor to leverage these profit growing strategies today! u 5 u


High somatic cell count cows can quickly rob you of your profits. A recent study showed that 6.1 pounds of milk per cow per day was lost with every 100,000-cell increase in bulk tank somatic cell counts. In addition to lower milk production, increased bulk tank cell counts were also linked to reduced pregnancy rates and greater death losses. Secure your profit potential by leveraging mastitis resistant genetics. Let Select Sires help you make longevity her legacy. *Lormore M. What Drives Financial Success on a Dairy? Parsippany, NJ: Zoetis; 2020. Fessenden B, Weigel DJ, Osterstock J, Galligan DT, Di Croce F. Validation of genomic predictions for a lifetime merit selection index for the US dairy industry. Slide Deck, Slide 20, Zoetis, 2020.

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FERTILITY MATTERS IN HHP$ INDEX Susie Martin, Records Analysis and Genetic Consultant, CentralStar Cooperative

As herds continue to fine tune heifer-replacement populations, the average age of the milking herd continues to rise. It takes three years before the pregnancies made today are in the milking herd, therefore precision-selection strategies are a critical component to the success of your breeding program. Here we will hone in on fertility, as it is among the most important components of your herd’s success. To get a sense of where we are, let’s look at the historical genotypic and phenotypic trends as reported by the Council on Dairy Cattle Breeding (CDCB) and then dive into Select Sires’ innovative Herd Health Profit Dollars™ (HHP$™) index and showcase fertility’s weighting.


40 35 30 25 20 15 10 5 0

20 18 16 14 12 10 8 6 4 2 0 -2

notypic and Genetic Trends for Daughter Pregnancy Rate


Phenotypic and Genetic Trends for Daughter Pregnancy Rate DPR PHENOTYPIC TREND

Analyzing industry trends In the chart below, you can see Holstein genetic trends for Daughter Pregnancy Rate (DPR) have slowed the decrease in DPR and now are maintaining, while Jersey genetic trends show a continued decline. The phenotypic trend for both breeds show an increase, resulting from the combined impact of genetic and management improvements. Practices, such as synchronization and activity-monitoring systems, are key factors in improving phenotypic measures of fertility. Over time, the industry has seen a dramatic, positive increase in pregnancy rates. Historical (2000 – 2018) Cow Conception Rate (CCR) phenotypic and genetic trends indicate an ongoing slight improvement for Holsteins. Jerseys show an increase for the phenotypic trend, and they are maintaining that trend. Once again, we can assume better management practices are contributors to the improvement. The CDCB data suggests Holsteins have better fertility than Jerseys, but keep in mind breeding-value data is not apples-to-apples for the two breeds. That said, Jerseys currently continue to be more fertile than Holsteins. As an industry, we should continue to focus on improving fertility traits. Reproduction is one of the primary reasons cows are culled, and consumer demands may decrease the use of synchronization procedures. DPR, CCR, and Heifer Conception Rate (HCR) are all fertility traits included in key genetic indexes.

1970 1973 1976 1979 1982 1985 1988 1991 1994 1997 2000 2003 2006 2009 2012 2015 2018





HHP$ prioritizes fertility While many composite indexes include fertility, HHP$ places a strong emphasis on fertility. Developed by Select Sires, HHP$ is designed to create cows that are productive and trouble-free. This present-day index focuses on areas that most frequently cause cows to leave the herd, such as failure to get pregnant, mastitis and low production. Fertility receives an 11% weighting in the Holstein HHP$ formula and a 16% weighting in the Jersey HHP$ formula. Selection indexes are a critical component of breeding programs. If you would like assistance in determining which index and genetic plan meets your herd’s long-term goals, ask your local Select Sires team member for a consultation today. u 7 u


Dr. Stephanie Ward, Dairy Extension Specialist and Assistant Professor, North Carolina State University Devan Pendry, Herd Manager, North Carolina State University Dairy Farm and Howling Cow Dairy Education Center and Creamery The Holstein cow has dominated the modern dairy industry for years and as far as milk production is concerned, she remains at the top. But as dairy markets shift toward the need for milk with greater components, more dairy farmers are looking to add Jerseys to their herd. Jersey cows bring heat tolerance and consistent yields of milk fat and protein to the table. As the southern states experience high temperatures, we see many Jersey cows power through the heat and humidity to maintain a 70 pound per day average at 4% or greater butterfat.

Perhaps the toughest part of milking Jersey cows is raising them from calfhood. Feeding and raising dairy calves is a delicate balance between science and art. Based on experience with our herd and other successful herds in the southeast, here are some areas of importance for raising Jersey calves. Nutrition and feed considerations Jersey calves can be born as light as 45-50 pounds and will need some extra attention to meet weaning benchmarks and become productive members of the herd. With the ideal goal of doubling their bodyweight within 60 days, Jersey calves will need more fat in their milk replacer, especially in the winter months. Work done at North Carolina State University (NCSU), Virginia Tech and Cornell has demonstrated the need for additional fat in the Jersey calf diet. OUR HERD: We rotate between a 27% Crude Protein/10% Fat (warm seasons) and 26% CP/20% Fat (cool season), mixed at 15% solids. One industry anecdote claims that because Jersey calves are so small, they need less colostrum or milk early on to avoid scours and succeed at weaning. In some cases, with remarkably small calves, that might be the case. In reality, the needs of Jersey calves are similar to other breeds. Smaller, more frequent feedings will meet their requirements without overloading their gut. Multiple feedings per day always bring more labor concerns, but with the success of automated feeding systems, Jersey calf intake is easily managed to keep them healthy and focused on growth. OUR HERD: We split feeding of colostrum with a minimum goal of two quarts (half gallon) within four hours of birth and an additional two quarts (half gallon) at the next feeding. Many of our calves will take the whole gallon at one feeding, without issue. 8 u

Milk Replacer Feeding Schedule Age


Feeding Time

0 - 7 days

2 quarts (½ gallon)

a.m. and p.m.

7 - 14 days

3 quarts (¾ gallon)

a.m. and p.m.

14 - 49 days

4 quarts (1 gallon)

a.m. and p.m.

49 - 56 days

2 quarts (½ gallon)

a.m. only

60 days

Herd Stats

Wean Birth Weight (lbs)

Weaning Weight (lbs, 60d)

Hip Height (in)

Average Daily Gain (lbs)





General management of Jersey calves As with all calves, newborn Jerseys will thrive in a clean, dry environment. However, they are sensitive to ambient conditions. Jersey calves have a greater surface area to body weight ratio and will lose heat faster than other breeds, especially in hypothermic conditions. Consider allowing newborns to stay inside until they are dry, stable and have received colostrum. Warming boxes are also a good option for maintaining body temperature at birth. OUR HERD: In the winter, we apply calf jackets when the high for the day/low for the night is going to be 50°F or less. We do this for the first 30 days of life for all Jersey calves or longer if necessary. In the summer, we use reflective covers on our hutches and elevate the back end of the hutch to reduce heat load and encourage air flow. Phenotype = Genotype + Environment As an industry, we focus a great deal on the E and sometimes forsake the G. The Jersey breed is well supported by a strong library of genetic information and using genomic testing results is a good investment for your herd. This information allows producers to manage the calf’s environment to maximize her full genetic potential. It takes both nature and nurture. Jersey Performance Index™ (JPI™) and Dairy Wellness Profit Index® (DWP$®) both include production, functional type, fertility and health.

The Jersey cow often presents challenges that her large framed herd mates do not, but she will reward you with longevity and beautiful calves. A solid Jersey calf program is not difficult to design. Despite rumors of difficult newborns, Jersey calves require very little outside of the standard care of other calf breeds. If done well, you will have a successful contributor to your herd. u DHIA Herd Summary Records NCSU Howling Cow Dairy Education Center and Creamery Cows in Milk


Conception Rate



Pregnancy Rate


Fat, lbs. (%)

901 (4.8%)

Calving Interval


Protein, lbs. (%)

703 (3.7%)

Involuntary Cull Rate


Calf Mortality


Milk, lbs.

SCC, cells/mL


Feel free to contact the authors with any questions, thoughts, or comments:;; Photos by Devan Pendry.

OUR HERD: We rank on JPI and Cheese Merit (CM$), primarily for Jerseys. We do not sleep on reproductive traits. To reach her full potential, she must be able to breed easily and produce a healthy calf.

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SOLVING HERD HEALTH CHALLENGES Each day, farmers are faced with a multitude of challenges and tasked with finding the best solution. Simplicity, accessibility, cost and success rate are often taken into consideration when determining a plan of action. Your local Select Sires representative can help analyze your problems and offer solutions that best fit your herd goals, not just in the genetic space, but with herd health. Keep reading for Craig Bosma’s four most common challenges and farmer-approved solutions. Craig Bosma grew up on a farm near Rock Rapids, Iowa and currently resides on a farm about six miles from his home farm. He attended college at Northeast Iowa earning an associate of dairy science degree. After college, he worked as a herdsman and was then employed in the A.I. industry for eight years before joining the team at Select Sires MidAmerica nearly six years ago. When he began with Select Sires, he worked as a professional A.I. technician and he has held the role of sales and technician coordinator for Northwest Iowa for the past three years. Recently, his territory has expanded into Southeast South Dakota as well. Bosma enjoys working with herds to help overcome challenges and provide solutions to improve herd health and profitability. u


NO. 1

• Ketotic cows • Cows that are off feed • Cows that simply need a boost



NO. 2

• Calves that are struggling with overall health challenges



NO. 3

NO. 4

Review your colostrum management and make sure calves are receiving high-quality colostrum. Immediately following colostrum, administer Tri-Start Jr+ paste to help the calf fight pathogens and get off to a healthy start. Most of the herds I work with that are using Tri-Start Jr+ are administering it shortly after birth as a preventative measure. They also like that it’s natural.


Many of the herds I work with are adding Accel RS to free-choice water for the hydration calves need. I know it can be a good recovery product, but most of my customers use it as a preventative measure before their calves encounter a challenge or continuously during heat stress events.


It’s never a question of IF a herd will encounter respiratory challenges with young animals, it’s WHEN. AccelAIRate is our newest product and a tremendous tool. I’ve had a positive response from farmers when introducing this product. Plus, at such a small dose for just 10 days, it’s so simple to apply and very cost effective.

• Respiratory challenges



• Dehydration and heat stress




Tri-Start boluses are easy to use and economical. Farmers can expect quick results! I would say about half of my herds using Tri-Start boluses are administering a bolus to every fresh cow, and about half of them are administering a bolus to any cow off feed or cows that just need a boost.


SAVE COWS AND MONEY WITH EARLY DETECTION “With CowManager, I know that my cows are always being monitored and I have more peace of mind while at home with my family,” says Jeremy Natzke. Jeremy Natzke works with three partners as the manager of Wayside Dairy in Greenleaf, Wisconsin. Founded in 1863, Wayside is a fifth-generation family dairy milking 2,050 cows with 250 dry cows and 1,600 heifers in free-stall group housing. After considerable research of activity monitoring systems, Wayside installed CowManager in July 2020. They have 2,450 sensors throughout the herd and use Fertility, Health, Nutrition and Find my Cow modules. CowManager is heavily relied upon for everyday management of the herd and has provided strategic guidance to improve reproductive performance and lessen health challenges. Climbing reproductive success Previously, Wayside had a 33% pregnancy rate. Since installing CowManager, they’ve achieved a 38% pregnancy rate for the year and according to Natzke, the numbers are still climbing. Because of the Fertility alerts, herd reports show that Wayside is breeding less cows on the synchronization program and catching more cows on natural heats. Decreased reliance on synchronization is saving on costs and labor while achieving better reproductive performance. Herd Record

Prior to CowManager


21-PR (%)



HDR (%)



CR (%)






Early detection and intervention Natzke and Wayside Dairy measure success by healthy, productive cows and they are boosting this benchmark because of CowManager’s Health module. Costly health events like metritis and displaced abomasums have dropped significantly since July 2020. With the industry average cost of $329 per metritis case, the 11% reduction in metritis health events alone has saved Wayside Dairy an estimated $83,237 annually. “The Health module has helped us become more profitable just by finding sick cows quicker,” says Natzke. With early detection, Wayside is able to treat cows earlier and get them back on their feet and back to the milking string faster. Both the Health and Nutrition Health Event %Change module have been integral in Sold 4i improving cow health at Wayside. For maternity care, the Nutrition Died 2i module has improved labor and recovery. CowManager identifies DNB 0 cows that may have calving issues Metritis 11i and Wayside intervenes with a calcium bolus or other treatment to Pneumonia 32i keep them eating and ruminating prior to calving. Diarrhea 13h Natzke says, “The return on Displaced Abomasum 1i investment with CowManager is really very quick. What it does Ketosis 1h is allow us to spend more time with the animals that need Retained Placenta 1i more attention.” If you’re searching for greater peace of mind in regard to herd management, talk with your local Select Sires representative about CowManager today. u 11 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.

Herd Health Profit Dollars and HHP$ are trademarks of Select Sires Inc. Jersey Performance Index and JPI are trademarks of the American Jersey Cattle Association. CONVERT is a trademark of Agrarian Solutions. ®Your Success Our Passion and ProfitSOURCE are registered trademarks of Select Sires Inc. Dairy Wellness Profit Index and DWP$ are registered trademarks of Zoetis Inc., its affiliates and/or its licensors. BioFresh is a registered trademark of Agrarian Solutions. CowManager is a registered trademark of Agis Automatisering. 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. ™

Select Sires’ Beef x Dairy Umbrella of Programs ProfitSOURCE emphasizes three key needs to garner the best return on your investment – 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 beef x dairy and straight-breed beef embryos! To learn more about Supply Chain Power for Beef x Dairy, listen to Dr. Larry Corah’s conversation on The Select Sires Podcast.