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FULL BROTHERS OFFER UNIQUE OPPORTUNITY: Semex’s Kerndt-Premier Butze and Premier-Kerndt Sailing


Page 8-9 CHOOSING MATING SIRES: Genomax™ Bulls vs Progeny Proven Bulls

Page 10-11 INDIVIDUAL COW CARE: To Lower Lameness in Your Herd

Page 12-13 REPRODUCTION IMPACTED BY DISEASE: Three Disorders That Will Derail Repro Success

Page 15 SWISSGENETICS: The extraordinary achievements of Jolahofs Starbuck Jola

Balance is a magazine designed to promote dairy genetics, technology and management. The magazine is published by the Semex Alliance. The Semex Alliance is focused on global leadership in the genetics marketplace. Semex Alliance Canadian Partnerships:


Semex Solutions

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Semex sires continue to link profitable production with balanced type. Each proof round, new release sires, highranking sires, second crop sires and genomic young sires underline Semex’s commitment to our customers’ profits.

Although too young for semen to be available at this time, Uno represents Semex’s desire to offer our clients all the rewards of genomic selection, today! Through these pages of Balance, you can find more information on not only our expanding product offering but also our solutions.

Our experts offer solutions to your dairying issues. In this issue, we’ve included articles that are applicable to you today including: choosing mating sires and navigating the world of second crop, We continually first crop and add sires genomic young identified as sires on pages being highly 8-9; identifying profitable, diseases that those that are will derail your high LPI, high reproduction on for important pages 12-13; health traits, also, we’re Cover photo by Paco Ahedo, Spain. outcross, highly introducing reliable and internationally you to our R&D and Gold popular. Standard at L’Alliance Looking to the future, Semex Boviteq on pages 6-7. Semex’s lineup continues to grow and expand, with so much more than just traditional bulls... Our lineup is one of the most complete in the industry.

has some outstanding young sires. Our Genomax™ product line is certainly one of the most desired in the industry. This group of young sires includes one of the highest ranking unsampled sires in the world, 0200HO07450 Numero Uno.

Working shoulder-to-shoulder with dairymen worldwide we’re working to provide you with the most profitable solutions available. For more information on any of Semex’s sires or solutions visit

Comments or submissions to the editor should be forwarded to Brenda Lee-Turner, Semex Alliance, 130 Stone Road West, Guelph, Ontario, Canada N1G 3Z2. tel: 519-821-5060, fax: 519-821-7225; email: SEMEXX™, Genomax™, Genomaxx™, Repromax™, ProMate™, ReproMix™ , Semex Premier™, Health$mart™, ai24™ , Designer Series™, .25Plus™ and CVG™ are registered trademarks of the Semex Alliance.


.25Plus™ Best Use Practices Semex recommends utilizing a universal insemination gun and tweezers (or ¼ cc gun and tweezers) along with the following standard handling procedures when using the ¼ cc straw: • Ensure a warm, draft free environment for thawing semen • Be sure that all equipment including guns, sheaths, and paper towels are warm before coming in contact with thawed straws • Hands should be clean • Keep equipment free of contamination, use clean thaw water • Use a 1-pint, wide-mouth thermos filled with clean water and a dial thermometer to thaw straws • Periodically confirm the accuracy of your thermometer by comparing it to a known standard • Check to make sure that the thermos water temperature is 98°F (36.6°C) before each straw is removed from the tank

• Always use nitrogen cooled tweezers to handle the straws; fingertips should not be used • Thaw semen in 98°F (36.6°C) water for 60 seconds • Only thaw one straw at a time • Breed cow as soon as possible. No longer than 15 minutes after thawing • Use paper towels to clean vulva, use a clean towel to open vulva • Keep the tip of gun that enters cervix & uterus free of contamination • Ensure animal is in heat by picking up the cervix and uterus. If you get a clear mucous discharge from the vulva it’s a good sign she is in heat



0200HO05548 KERNDT-PREMIER BUTZE & 0200HO0561 Mike West, Semex Alliance Sire Analyst & Product Support Specialist

The ability to pass on elite genetics from one generation to the next is the goal of any breeding program. When a cow family successfully returns two full brothers simultaneously to active service, it shows what outstanding genetic potential a cow family truly has. Semex’s 0200HO05548 Kerndt-Premier Butze and 0200HO05611 Premier-Kerndt Sailing are Goldwyn brothers from a flush of Pfaffs Morty Season EX-90-4YRUSA 3*. This Stouder Morty daughter was one of the early second crop daughters that helped propel Morty to international success and the coveted Millionaire Sire status. Season was a spectacular individual that was not only able to make large production records, but she scored high as well. In her first lactation, she calved at a young 1-10 and after 365 days of production she produced almost 16,000 kgs of milk of 3.4F and 3.2P. She calved right back and gave nearly 16,400 kgs in 365. In her first lactation she scored VG-86 and as a second calver moved up to EX-90 points. Season came by her earning potential extremely honestly. Her pedigree is filled with high producing and scoring cows with multiple brood stars. Her dam was a VG-88 GMD DOM Patron with over 13,600 kgs in her first 365 day lactation, the next dam is the famous Sher-Est Thor Soup VG-88-3YR-USA GMD DOM 1*. Following is the family matriarch, Sher-Est S-Wind Saturday, the EX-905YR-USA GMD DOM Southwind daughter that is found in many of the breed’s top producing male and female pedigrees. This is a cow family that is known to transmit exceptional production, and now we see with the addition of Goldwyn on the paternal side of the pedigree, great type sires committed to genetic success.

SOUTHEAST BUTZE CHESNEY GP-83-2YR-CAN Henry A. Klooster, Tavistock, ON, Canada


Semex was able to take advantage of its large sampling program to place both Butze and Sailing into stud. Butze was sampled in the Gencor area in Canada’s sampling program, while Sailing was sampled through the USA Premier™ program. Sampling full brothers simultaneously in two different programs and netting similar results is a win-win situation for Semex customers. These full brothers offer similar traits with unique specialities. Butze presents a very interesting combination of production and type, placing him as the #1 Goldwyn and #17 sire (+2063 GTPI) on the International TPI listing, as well as #26 on the Canadian Lifetime Profit Index. He offers a ‘total performance package,’ transmitting a triplethreat opportunity for dairymen, debuting as a Semex Designer Series™, Repromax™ and Health$mart™ sire. His strong +11 Conformation and +11 Mammary System gives breeders the correct foundation that they can count on, while +1586 Milk with over 120 kgs combined fat and protein, puts him on target for profitable production. Arriving at +102 Herd Life, a +107 Calving Ability and +106 Daughter Calving Ability, he’s ideal for both cows and heifers. Full brother Sailing debuts with very impressive figures, and at the top of many high-ranking sire reports, including being Goldwyn’s #4 PTAT son and a top 5 PTAT sire overall! At +15 Conformation, +11 Mammary System and a +14 Stature, Sailing


Your Source for Goldwyn



certainly is appealing to type enthusiasts, but what is more interesting though is when you look further into his breakdown. Sailing has an impressive +14 Median Suspensory and +12 Rear Attachment Height, giving him the ability to be the breed’s next ‘Rear Udder King’! With these figures, Sailing is an easy Designer Series™ sire and with his high fertility Repromax™ status, he generates more worldwide interest by the day and is certain to leave his mark on dairies everywhere. When we go into the field we hear a lot of similar comments, peppered with certain uniquenesses. “The Butze daughters are a really nice young group of cows,” says Doug Green, Gencor Progeny Analyst. “You have to really admire these tremendously balanced cows for their great udder shape and overall blending of parts.” Butze has come in at +1586 kgs of milk, and we see this tremendous ability to milk in their body condition throughout the year; these cows stay sharp and dairy looking all lactation, while

maintaining a desirable amount of strength. In the US, Cam Davis, Semex USA East Coast Premier™ Consultant speaks very favorably about the Sailings as well, “Sailing’s best feature without a doubt is rear udders! It was no surprise to see him come up with a big rear udder evaluation, as Sailings are all extremely wide and have an excellent center ligament that defines the udder very well.” Michelle Pedretti, Semex USA West Coast Premier™ Consultant adds, “These cows display the right amount of dairy strength, showing a great depth and openness in their fore and rear rib. They are definitely a modern framed kind of cow.” Butze and Sailing offer dairymen a rare and interesting opportunity. They share an outstanding maternal line with exceptional production, and a paternal side that carries one of the breed’s all-time greatest sires in Goldwyn. This is a cross that makes sense in so many ways, but most obviously it combines one of the breed’s wettest cow families with one of the greatest type legends in breed history. With a balance of health and fertility traits evident in both sires, this modern day ‘band of brothers’ will both contribute and surpass dairymen’s expectations.

DASILVA SAILING 6957 GP-81-2YR-USA Da Silva Dairy Farms LLC, Escalon, CA, USA Photo: Frank Robinson


DUSTYLEA BUTZE TARIN VG-85-2YR-CAN Dusty Bros., Seagrave, ON, Canada Photo: Patty Jones



SEMEX R&D Patrick Blondin, PhD, Director of Research and Development, L’Alliance Boviteq

L’Alliance Boviteq is the Research & Development subsidiary of the Semex Alliance, based in St-Hyacinthe, Quebec, Canada. Boviteq, as it is known, is currently leading a five-year research and development plan financed by Semex that covers five niches. These projects are conducted with those involved in research at Boviteq including two veterinarians, eight PhDs, five MSc, two BSc and five with college diplomas, amassing a very talented staff.

Semen evaluation

Semen freezing

A.I. and gestation

For Semex, it is imperative that the fertility of the semen that is being processed within its centers is known before it is sent out to the field. Currently, other AI centers worldwide apply various semen quality standards for fresh and frozen semen using basic microscopy. However, microscopy has its limits and cannot by itself predict the fertility of sperm before it is sent to the field. It is clear that additional diagnostic tools must be developed to better understand the differences between an ejaculate that is more or less fertile. Technologies that are being evaluated today will allow us to correct these differences. For Semex clients, this will help ensure a steady, consistent supply of our high quality product.


Young bull

Sire care

Beyond microscopy To stay competitive on the national and international levels, Semex goes beyond microscopy: the key to this is flow cytometry. What is flow cytometry? As others have described, imagine it to be a lot like visiting a supermarket. Once you choose your goods, you take them to the cashier and place them on the counter. The salesperson will scan each item with a laser to read the barcode. Now picture in your mind the whole process automated. Replace shopping with biological cells and substitute the barcode with cellular markers … this is flow cytometry! Using just a few straws, flow cytometry is capable of staining sperm with various markers (up to 12 simultaneously) where each marker furnishes important information on a specific physiological characteristic.

The wealth of information provided with this technology permits a better evaluation of the quality and fertility of semen.

laboratory that develops various biotechnologies to produce semen of higher quality and fertility.

A semen ejaculate contains a heterogeneous sperm population. Studying just one of the many cell parameters is usually insufficient to predict semen fertility since insemination depends on many factors. However, cytometry performs several tests simultaneously, evaluating semen fertility much more accurately than current microscope-based methods. With this information, centers decide to either reject the lot (diagnostics) due to suboptimal readings or work to correct any difference within the doses to assure the highest fertility.

This work, and the Semex Gold Standard, continues our commitment to providing the highest quality product available today to our customers.

In addition to flow cytometry, Boviteq is currently integrating recent innovations in the quantitative analysis of sperm motility parameters also known as CASA (Computer Assisted Sperm Analysis). CASA improves the accuracy of data collection and identifies what traditional microscopy may miss. With the assistance of Boviteq, Semex is transferring these technologies to all Semex AI centers to further ensure semen quality assurance procedures. Boviteq also has a highly regarded embryo transfer center that offers technological services to producers including assisted reproductive biotechnologies such as in vitro fertilization (IVF), embryo flushing and freezing, genomic information from small embryo biopsies, and more. In this center, multiple researchers develop technologies that offer producers various solutions and opportunities for today’s female reproductive challenges. SEMEXX™, Semex’s highly regarded sexed semen product is also produced at Boviteq at its multi-disciplinary semen laboratory in which it manages its sexed semen laboratory, running six semen sorters 24 hours a day, seven days a week, producing Semex’s SEMEXX™ product. There is also a research

Other R&D niches Boviteq supervises for Semex are: •A  nimal genomics – develop genomic tools to identify elite bulls and cows for producers •B  ull calf nutrition – study the effects of different diets on bull calves during the first weeks of age on the quantity and quality of sperm produced at puberty •S  emen proteins – identification of fertility proteins associated to bovine sperm that could be added back to semen from bulls of lower fertility •S  emen extenders – develop innovative semen extenders to protect semen during the freezing process resulting in post-thaw fertile sperm •S  exed semen – sexing semen from frozen sperm from any bull and use the sexed sperm in IVF to produce more female embryos •E  mbryo genomics – develop technologies that would permit to apply genomic technology to embryos where the full genome of an embryo is revealed from the biopsy of a few cells

EXCELLENCE IN Genomic selection Sire care Semen collection Semen processing Semen evaluation Storage & distribution Fertility


GENOMAX™ BULLS VS PROGENY PROVEN BULLS Dr. J. P. Chesnais, Semex Senior Geneticist

CHOOSING MATING SIRES Since the arrival of genomics, breeders have had several choices when selecting mating sires: 1) B  ulls with first crop daughters; typically, these bulls are five to nine years of age and were first proven anytime between the last proof round and a proof round four years ago 2) B  ulls which now have a lot of second crop of daughters, are at least 10 years of age and typically have hundreds or thousands of daughters in production 3) B  ulls that do not have daughters in milk yet but have a genomic evaluation; typically, these bulls are one to three years of age and at Semex we call them Genomax™ bulls

If you selected bulls in each of these categories today, what could you expect in terms of the real genetic merit of these bulls? Would one category be better than the other on average? Which category is the safest to use for ensuring that most daughters in your herd will come from top bulls? Table 1 below shows the average LPI evaluation for the top active bulls in Canada in each of three categories: first crop sires, second crop sires and young genomic sires. First crop sires had to be officially proven, and second crop sires had to have at least 500 daughters in their proof. For first and second crop bulls, the averages are for the top 10 active bulls. For young genomic bulls, the averages are for the top 30 bulls, given that they are best used in groups, and that a greater number of different bulls are recommended than for proven bulls to inseminate the same number of cows. Also, young bulls do not produce as much semen as older bulls, and there is less time to accumulate a semen bank for them, so it makes sense that more top young bulls will be required to satisfy the demand for this category of bulls. All young bulls had to be active to be considered. Table 1: Average LPI evaluation and reliability of the top 10-30 bulls in each of three categories (April 2011 evaluations, CDN) Top sires in the US


Average LPI

Average REL

Top 10 first crop sires



Top 10 second crop sires



Top 30 young genomic sires



The Figure below uses the values in the table to provide answers as to which bulls have the most value and the lowest risk for your herd. Figure 1: Expected true genetic value for LPI for three different types of bulls, each at the average of a top bull category in Table 1.

semen from second crop sires. However, in most cases the genetics will not be as high as if you had used first crop sires. Looking at Figure 1, you will see that most LPI values on the green curve are lower than those on the red curve, showing that second crop bulls tend to have a lower average genetic merit. This is despite the fact that this group includes some very well-known bulls such as Mr Burns, Shottle, Frosty, Baxter, Ashlar and Toystory, for example. O Man and Goldwyn are not included since they are no longer active. There are a few instances when a bull is so superior to the rest of the pack that he remains a top sire more than four years after receiving his initial proof. Elevation, Starbuck and Goldwyn were examples of these rare sires. These bulls are the exception rather than the rule. Many herds will use them as first crop bulls and will not want to use them again four years later as second crop bulls.


FIRST CROP BULLS In April 2011, the average of the top 10 active first crop bulls for LPI was 2330 points. The red curve shows the range in true genetic value for a first crop bull with an evaluation equal to that average. The bull’s reliability is assumed to be 89%, which is typical for this type of bull. Because reliability is not 100%, the true genetic merit of the bull can differ from its genetic evaluation. The higher the red curve above a LPI value at the bottom of the graph, the greater the chances that the true genetic merit of the bull will be close to that value. Possible true LPI values for this bull range from 1660 to 3000, with the most probable value being 2330, i.e. the bull’s evaluation. However, there is a 16% chance that the bull’s true LPI is below 2107, for example, and a 2.5% chance that it is below 1884. Because this is a proven bull, with a fairly high reliability, the bull’s true genetic merit tends to remain relatively close to its evaluation in most cases. This means that when you buy semen from a first crop bull like this one, the risk of him not being as good as expected is relatively small, although it may happen in a few cases.

SECOND CROP SIRES You can decrease the risk of the LPI dropping over time by purchasing semen from a second crop sire. These sires usually have many daughters with records, and therefore their evaluations are quite accurate. Their average reliability for LPI is around 97%. These bulls, however, are at least four years older than first crop bulls, and since there is substantial genetic progress each year, second crop bulls have a lower average genetic merit than first crop bulls. In April 2011 the average of the top 10 active second crop bulls for LPI was 1881, which is 450 points below that of first crop bulls. The green curve in Figure 1 shows the range in true genetic value for a second crop bull with a proof equal to this average. There is a big peak around the value of 1881, because the bull’s true genetic merit is unlikely to be very different from its evaluation. In fact, the proof will rarely go up or down by more than 224 LPI points, showing that you can minimize the risk that a proof will go down by using

Now it’s time to discuss the third category, genomic young sires. The blue curve in Figure 1 applies to a young genomic bull with an LPI evaluation of 2841 points, which is the average of the top 30 genomic sires for LPI that were active in April 2011. Reliability is 65%, the average for this category of bulls. The difference between this bull’s evaluation and the evaluation of the first crop bull we looked at previously is 511 points of LPI. A positive difference is expected because on average young genomic sires are 2-3 years younger than first crop sires. Because of the lower reliability of young genomic bulls, the blue curve is flatter and extends quite far on each side, which indicates that the true genetic value of a genomic young bull can vary quite a bit around its evaluation. However, because the average is 511 points above that for the red curve, one can see on Figure 1 that this value will usually be better than that of a top first crop sire. Also, the blue curve does not extend further than the red curve towards the left side of the chart. This means that even if the true value of the bull happens to be much worse than its evaluation, it will not fall below that of a first crop bull in the same situation. It therefore seems, based on Figure 1, that there is nothing to lose from the use of genomic young bulls. Their true genetic merit and eventual proof has more chance to differ from their original evaluation than for other bulls, but they will be better on average than first crop bulls, and much better than second crop bulls. For example, the young genomic bull depicted above will have a true genetic merit for LPI of 2840 or more in 50% of cases compared to only 1% for a first crop bull in the top 10. In addition, its true genetic merit for LPI will fall below 2400 in only 14% of cases compared to 62% of cases for a first crop bull in the top 10, so that the risk of using a young bull is actually less. Based on the information in the above table and figure, and ignoring everything else, deciding which category of bulls to buy seems very simple: you only need to buy semen from top young genomic bulls. The evaluations of these bulls will go up and down more than for proven bulls, but you can protect yourself against this variation by using groups of superior young bulls. Even if a few young sires go down a lot when they are proven, they will still be better on average than some of the first crop sires, who went down less but also started lower.

Continued on page 14


INDIVIDUAL COW CARE TO LOWER LAMENESS IN YOUR HERD By Jamie Sullivan for Progressive Dairyman • Reprinted with permission from Progressive Dairyman, March 22, 2011

I have been in the hoof care business for more than 16 years and have seen my herds expand in size over and over again. The industry has integrated from mid-size herds in tiestalls and cows spending much of their time on pasture to larger freestall operations with cows spending most or all of their time walking on concrete. During this time, cow comfort has improved dramatically through stall size and design, ventilation, water access, etc., in these modern enterprises. In most cases these improvements have made cow comfort better in these larger farms, but concrete can never replace the cushion and relief that time on pasture can provide. Also, concrete does not have the forgiveness that pasture provides on a cow’s hooves that have become overgrown or out of balance, but that does not mean we need to have to accept a higher incidence of lameness in our modern dairy barns or that we can’t have happy, healthy cows in these types of environments. However, it does take a lot more effort, management and good accurate recordkeeping to make sure we are keeping our cows healthy, productive and profitable. The days of trimming the cow once or even twice a year are gone. We need to provide the individual care that was more easily accomplished when there were only 50 to 100 cows to keep track of. Then it was easy to just have us hoof trimmers come twice a year or, more ideally, every five months and do a whole-herd trim. Most of my larger herds prefer to have a weekly, bi-weekly or monthly appointment. That is why I decided, as a hoof trimmer, I needed to help in the record-keeping department and decided to invest in a “chute-side” computer system to record the cows trimmed and the lesions observed on the hooves. Now, at the end of the trim session, there are detailed individual cow reports and easy-to-read herd summaries. These reports could be shared and viewed by everyone involved in the herd’s health, including the vet, nutritionist and other farm consultants. 10

There was no longer a “communication breakdown” from what was actually seen on trim day and what got reported back to others not present on trim day. It was also amazing how quickly most of my clients started to look at hoof health in their herds. The clients and their employees were now starting to focus on the “real” issues and not the “perceived” issues in regards to hoof health. I was able to gain trust and take more control to make sure the cows that needed extra attention were put on a re-check trim list. Over the following year, as I got more cows in my chute-side computer system (Hoof Supervisor), I quickly began to notice that even in my best-managed herds, we were missing some cows that should have been trimmed sooner. In most of my herds the trimming protocol was to perform the first trim in the lactation within the first 100 to 150 DIM (days in milk) and again just before dry-off. The results of this protocol can be seen from one of my clients where in June ’08 (Figure 1) the herd had a lameness incidence as Figure 1

high as 44 percent. In less than a year, by following the trim protocol, we were able to lower the lameness incidence to about 10 percent (Figure 2). In a perfect world, when all cows freshen every 12 to 13 months, this protocol would probably work well and be sufficient, but what about those cows that take 200+ days to get pregnant? I began wondering what else I could do to help my clients to achieve a lameness incidence less than 5 percent. I kept coming back to the small herd mentality and individual cow care. More easily said than done when we are talking about hundreds of cows to keep track of and much of the daily work done by hired employees, but I figured with the many dairy management software programs on the market today such as DC305, PC Dart, VAMP, etc., this should be possible. By making another investment in my business with one of these software programs, we were able to interface more lactation information into the chute-side computer system and were able to monitor hoof health by DIM,

Cows trimmed 6/1/2008 to 6/30/2008

Lesions as a percent of cows trimmed

Lesions as a percent of total lesions 26.60%

97.83% 2.17%

9.57% 13.83%


21.28% 8.51% Cows without lesions (1) - 2.17%

(W) - White line lesion

(U) - Sole ulcer

Cows with lesions (45) - 97.83%

(H) - Sole hemorrhage

(T) - Toe ulcer

(D) - Digital dermatitis

(C) - Corkscrew claw

Figure 2

Cows trimmed 5/1/2009 to 5/31/2009

Lesions as a percent of cows trimmed 63.41%


Lesions as a percent of total lesions





2.22% 2.22%

Cows without lesions (15) - 36.59%

(W) - White line lesion

(U) - Sole ulcer

Cows with lesions (26) - 63.41%

(H) - Sole hemorrhage

(V) - Vertical fissure

(D) - Digital dermatitis

(I) - Interdigital dermatitis

Figure 3

# of lesions by DIM, for cows trimmed between 4/1/2010 and 10/5/2010

70 2 1 1 4



5 2


2 4 3

3 10 1 3

8 1 5 2

1 2

1 1 3 1

1 1 3



1 1 1

1 3 2 1





421 - 450


1 1 3 4 2 1

1 1 1 1

391 - 420

1 2

361 - 390

1 1

1 1 3 3

331 - 360

7 3 1


301 - 330

1 1 4


6 2 2 6

271 - 300


181 - 210


1 2 1 4

211 - 240

2 1

241 - 270


151 - 180



121 - 150



91 - 120



61 - 90


1 2 2

31 - 60


0 - 30

# of lesions


1 1 2 3 1

Horizontal fissure - 3 Corkscrew claw - 3 Axial fissure - 3 Interdigital hyperplasia - 1 Thin sole - 10 Other - 16 Toe ulcer - 6 Toe ulcer - 7 White line lesion - 75 Sole ulcer - 54 Interdigital dermatitis - 2 Sole hemorrhage - 161 Foot rot - 3 Heel erosion - 2 Digital dermatitis - 21

later, on this same trim protocol, this herd’s lameness incidence was down to 4 percent. By keeping good records, monitoring results and providing “individual cow care” in a large-herd environment, this herd came from 98 percent of cows showing some kind of hoof lesion and a 44 percent lameness incidence to only 42 percent of the cows showing a hoof lesion and only a 4 percent lameness incidence. pen ID, lactation, etc., (Figure 3). We were now able to quickly see where most of the hoof issues were occurring and at what stage in the lactation. This makes it possible to quickly decide where the problem is most prevalent and to help my clients to quickly make changes or improvements in their operation to improve the overall health of the herd. I was also now able to customize a trimming protocol for each of my clients and, more importantly, each individual cow. I am now trying to create all my clients’ maintenance (preventive) trim lists so all my client needs to do for trim day is add any cows showing signs of lameness. My protocol now is to perform the first trim of the lactation between 80 to 120 DIM and the dry-off trim for all cows with days carrying calf (DCC) greater than 189 days and days since last trim (DSFTR) greater than 40 days. The third trim command is where it is customized for each client depending on the rate of hoof growth compared to hoof wear from the facility. For the majority of the herds, this is

set at DIM>100 and DSFTR>150 days (five months), since in most cases every six months seems not to be sufficient for optimal hoof health. In herds that have facilities that cause more wear, this command is changed accordingly to DSFTR>180-200 days. For clients that have invested in rubber on the concrete and the rate of growth exceeds the rate of wear, the command may change for the second trim to DSFTR>120 days. Those individual cows in the herd that need to be trimmed more frequently than the default for the herd or are prone to lameness are put on a recheck list in the chute-side computer system, possibly to be trimmed every 80 to 90 days. With these commands all cows are ensured to have a balanced foot before they hit peak production; they have a balanced healthy foot going into the dry period and more of a guarantee that no cows go more than 150 to 200 days any time during their lactation without having their foot checked to make sure it is healthy and in balance. A year

Any herd can achieve these results with a good preventative, maintenance hoof trimming protocol. For hoof trimmers, there are now starting to be a few choices in the market for a chute-side computer system that fits your needs and budget. There is even more of a variety of choices in the market for a dairy management software program that can aid in the individual cow care needed. Work with the software company, their technical support advisers and your hoof trimmer to customize a trimming protocol that works for your dairy. With the herd owner/manager, hoof trimmer, nutritionist and farm employees working together, it is achievable to provide that “individual cow care” needed in a large-herd environment to ensure happy, healthy cows. PD Jamie Sullivan, Hoof Trimmer Rippleview Hoof Care


REPRODUCTION IMPACTED Three Disorders That Will Derail Repro Success Mark Carson, MSc. BSc. (Agr)., Gencor Reproductive Specialist

All dairy producers know that having healthy cows is key to both maximizing reproductive performance and to making sure every semen dose counts. Following are the three most common disorders that dairy cows face during their lactations, and the reproductive impacts associated with each. Mastitis Milk quality is getting a lot of attention lately. Much of this focus has been on reducing bulk tank somatic cell levels, which can also have an impact on your herd’s reproductive performance. An interesting study published in the Journal of Dairy Science looked at the occurrence of clinical mastitis with the probability of conception in Holstein dairy cows. A Cornell University study looked at the results of 55,372 artificial inseminations fro m 14,148 cows in seven New York state herds over a period of three to five years, depending on the herd.

Uterine diseases have the most direct impact on reproductive performance. Uterine infections in the early days after calving, such as metritis, can have lingering effects through the rest of a cow’s lactation. A study done by Overton and Fetrow in 2008 analyzed disease data from a single California dairy herd. They found cows that develop metritis in the first 10 days in milk, went on to be open for an average of 33 days longer and had a 4.5% reduction in pregnancy rates than cows without the condition.

The results showed cows with clinical mastitis (occurring anytime between 14 days before breeding until 35 days after insemination) had a reduced chance of getting pregnant. In the week prior to breeding, cows that developed mastitis were found to have a 50% reduction in the probability of conception. The greatest impact was seen in cows with gram-negative bacteria, (coliforms like E.coli) in the week after insemination. These cows saw an 80% reduction in the probability of becoming pregnant. Cows with gram-positive bacteria (Streptococcus spp. Staph. aureus, etc.) occurring in the week after insemination had a 47% reduction in conception, as well.

They estimated the cost of the reduction in reproductive performance was $109/case of metritis. When including the reduction of milk production and drug costs also associated with the disease, the total cost per case increases to approximately $350/case. This shows that if a producer milking 1,000 cows was able to reduce the herd’s incidence of metritis from 10% to 5%, the dairy could yield an additional $17,500 per year.

When looking at individual herd records, this pattern can also be seen. Using records from a 2,000 cow herd that uses timed AI for all first breedings that ensured all cows were bred at 75 DIM (±3 days), the association of mastitis with conception can be seen. Cows that had a case of mastitis from 50 to 90 days in milk, had a first service conception rate of 30%. Cows that were clean of any udder infections during this period had a 41% first service conception. This shows that on this particular dairy, mastitis reduced the chances of a cow getting pregnant by 11%. This highlights the importance of the cow’s udder health and her reproductive performance. To ensure mastitis is not significantly impacting your herd’s reproductive performance, focus on mastitis prevention. Environmental, milking and transition management are key components to any mastitis management program. This will not only improve your quality of milk, but it can also increase your reproductive performance. 12


To reduce the number of cases of metritis, producers need to focus on their cows’ health and environment during the transition period. Cows need a healthy body condition score, proper nutrition and dry matter intake throughout the dry period. Also, appropriate bull selection in regards to calving ease and a clean calving environment will reduce the risk of developing the condition.

Estimated Costs of Metritis By Herd Size Herd Size

Metritis Incidence

Estimated Cost

Metritis Incidence

Estimated Cost

Estimated Savings

100 Cows






500 Cows






1,000 Cows






2,000 Cows






*All figures in US$ based on estimated $350/case.


Metabolic Disease (Ketosis, Fatty Liver, DA)

Metabolic disorders can be the most undetected, but costly problem for a dairy. Metabolic problems often start even before the beginning of lactation. An interesting University of Cornell study looked at the impact of dry cow performance by analyzing the Nonesterified fatty acids (NEFA) blood serum concentration of over 2,200 cows across 95 herds in New York state. NEFA concentrations in the blood are a way to measure the impact of a dry cow program. An elevated NEFA concentration indicates the amount of “fat coming off her back” during the transition period. If a cow’s concentrations get too high, cows are at risk of developing metabolic disorders such as subclinical ketosis, displaced abomasums and fatty liver disease. The Cornell study linked cows with high concentrations of NEFA in the weeks prior to calving were associated with a 19% reduction in conception on subsequent breedings in mid-lactation. This means if metabolic problems arise with your cows in the days prior to calving, it can impact your herd’s conception throughout lactation. To maximize dry cow performance and keep NEFA concentrations low in the herd, focus on dry matter intake and body condition scores. Make sure dry cows have easy access to quality feed by keeping stocking density at 80%. As well, watch body condition scores throughout the dry period to ensure cows are gaining or losing weight at the appropriate time.


Continued from page 9


This all sounds very simple, but there could be a catch. We have only begun to use genomics in dairy cattle breeding, and it may take a few more years to ensure that all our assumptions are correct. If for any reason the top genomic young sires are over-evaluated, then the real difference between them and first crop sires may not be as large the 511 points of LPI shown in Figure 1, and the curve for young genomic sires will get closer to the curve for first crop sires. In fact, there were about 500 Semex bulls in Canada that had only a genomic evaluation in the August 2009 evaluation but had an official proof in the December 2010 evaluation. On average for these bulls, the proof fell short of the genomic prediction by 279 points of LPI, after base adjustment. If we take into account this over-evaluation, we get the curves shown in Figure 2 below. When looking at this figure, the advantage is still there for young bulls, but it is not as much as in Figure 1. In particular, the true LPI of a young genomic bull can in some cases be lower than that of a proven bull. Figure 2: Expected true genetic value for LPI for three different types of bulls, each at the average of a top bull category in Table 1, after adjustment for the observed bias in GPA.

Another reason for not using young bulls exclusively is that they generally have much less data on bull semen fertility and daughter calving ease than first crop sires, unless they themselves are fairly old, but in this case their genetic advantage is reduced. Finally, we are in a transition period. Today’s top proven bulls are the best of the 1,500 bulls or so that entered a progeny test annually in North America five to six years ago, before the advent of the genomic era. Today’s top genomic young bulls are the best of the 16,000 bulls genotyped up to April of last year in North America, which therefore benefit from a much greater selection intensity. Two years from now, however, the bulls that will come out with new proofs will have been heavily pre-selected on their genotype before entering the stud, reducing the gap due to selection intensity. There will still be a gap, due to the age difference between young and proven bulls, but it may be less than today. This means the top young and proven bulls might get even closer than in Figure 2.


Given the above, many herds might want to use a mix of first crop sires and Genomax™ sires, rather than just Genomax™ sires, in order to minimize their risk. In herds where owners do not like to have daughters from sires that may turn out to be quite poor, the balance could tip more towards first crop sires. In herds where owners do not care as much about the sires of individual cows, such as large commercial herds, the balance could tip more towards the use of Genomax™ sires. In all cases, Genomax™ sires would best be used in groups to reduce the risk due to their lower reliability. It also remains vital not to overuse any one young sire in particular.


Also, the shape of each curve depends on the reliability of the evaluations. If the real reliabilities for young sires are lower than those published, the blue curve will extend even further to the left, which means that a larger number of top young sires will actually end up with lower evaluations when proven than some top first crop sires. I believe there is evidence that this is happening today. Some top genomic bulls go down by very large amounts when proven, and end up well below the level of active proven bulls. Published reliabilities are based on theoretical calculations. True genomic reliabilities could be lower than those published currently, especially for functional traits. This means that the true LPI value of top young genomic bulls could vary more than shown in Figure 2, and when looking at top bulls, this extra variation creates more chances to go down than up. How many young bulls will end up with an evaluation of 3800 points of LPI when proven, for example? My guess would be very few if any. When selecting the very top GPA among the thousands of bulls that have been genotyped, we also tend to select the bulls which, by chance or due to inaccuracies in the evaluation, such as an over-evaluated sire for example, happen to have positive errors in their GPA. These errors are corrected when the bull gets a proof based on a sufficient number of daughters. 14

Young genomic sires can play a useful role in most dairy herds. Because they are younger, they tend to be better on average, and this advantage will increase with the annual rate of genetic change, which should be higher in the future as a result of the use of genomics. Additionally, enhancements in genotyping platforms and genomic evaluation could progressively increase the accuracy of genomic selection. For the time being, however, it would be imprudent to advise against the use of proven sires. We know proven bulls have significantly more accurate evaluations than young bulls, and they remain a standard in this regard. This is particularly true of Semex sires, which are proven based on at least 100 daughters in a large number of herds. The best approach for most herds is likely a mix of proven bulls with first crop daughters and Genomax™ bulls. As for second crop bulls, if one of them is so exceptional that it can compete with the younger generations, this means you should probably have used him a long time ago, either as a young bull or as a first crop bull. But, it’s never too late to catch up if the bull still ranks high and you did not use him. Genomics has changed a lot of things in the past two years, and adapting this new technology will only benefit your herd. Semex can help you get this done.

THE EXTRAORDINARY ACHIEVEMENTS OF JOLAHOFS STARBUCK JOLA Her incredible production, showring successes, classification and the ability to transmit her strengths to her offspring, make Jolahofs Starbuck Jola truly a unique cow. Her genes will influence the Brown Swiss breed as no other cow from Switzerland has done before.

Jola facts Lifetime production (kgs)

150,438 Milk • 6,017 Fat • 5,175 Protein


EX-95 (EX-99 Mammary System)


20 Females • 18 Males

Sons at Swissgenetics

10 (Four in waiting)

Proven sons returned to service

4/6 (Jongleur and Jet are available)

10 out of 14 Daughters Classified EX 7 Daughters Produced 50,000 kgs Milk

Over 150,000 kgs milk from Jola Durability is the key word used to describe Jolahofs Starbuck Jola. This cow surpassed the150,000 kgs milk lifetime production mark, which is rarely seen. Jola achieved this extraordinary production at nearly 18 years of age. Only there is much more... Jola is classified EX-95 and has the maximum udder score of EX-99. She was unbeatable in the showring in her best days and her unique story continues through her numerous offspring.


Strong quality transmission Thanks to several flushings, Jola is a brood cow as well as a high producer. She has 38 direct descendants, 20 of which are female. Six of her daughters produced over 50,000 kgs milk and additionally, 10 out of 14 classified daughters scored EX-90 or higher. Many of these exceptional daughters are Swissgenetics bull mothers. Jola herself already is successful as a bull dam. Five of her sons are proven by Swissgenetics, with four returned to service. All are positive for production and exceptional for conformation. For example, daughters of Jola’s Denmark son Jolden dominate the show ring. Two proven sons have semen available, Jet by Denver and Jongleur by Polo. Jet has the highest breeding value for mammary systems of all bulls available in Switzerland. Jongleur has the highest breeding value for final score in conformation and is among the best bulls for herd life. With this breeding profile Jongleur sires the type of cow that is able to achieve high lifetime productions, just like the family matriarch, Jola.


More to come Through the proven bulls and female lines, the influence of the Jola family will only get larger. Jola has still four sons in waiting herself and not less than 24 young sires from Jola’s daughters and granddaughters are being reared or are in waiting of their proofs at Swissgenetics. This ensures that Brown Swiss breeders from around the world will be able to benefit from the exceptional Jola genes for years to come!



REAL SOLUTIONS FOR REAL DAIRYMEN WORLDWIDE World renown for delivering high quality and highly fertile bovine genetics, Semex has been solving problems and satisfying dairymen through its distributor network for over 30 years. Working shoulder-to-shoulder with their clients, Semex’s staff is the best trained in the industry, offering real solutions for real dairymen worldwide.

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Balance - Summer 2011  

Balance is a magazine designed to promote dairy genetics, technology and management. The magazine is published by the Semex Alliance. The Se...