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A pregnancy is a pregnancy, right? Or is it? Where do you place your dairy pregnancy focus? On cows that are already pregnant?  On early lactation animals? Is your biggest concern that of matching energy requirements to maximize milk production?  Is your nutrition program defeating your reproduction rate? We need to go back to the beginning of the dairy profitability story and consider what happens between the breeding and a successful pregnancy.

The Incredible Conundrum

When we talk about breeding dairy cattle, the standard benchmark is two breedings to achieve one pregnancy.  For me, baseball is the only place where achieving 50% makes you an All Star. The dairy industry needs to step up to the plate. Let’s take every opportunity to change the breeding rate to a 1to1 ratio. If that were possible, it could save both time and money while increasing the number of pregnancies in dairy herds.

What factors – that are in your control – could raise your herd pregnancy success rate? We all nod in agreement that catching heats and preventing exposure to pathogens are ways to increase our success rate.  Are we nodding in agreement and taking action?  Or are we nodding off?  And what about nutrition?

The Proposition: Nutrition has a significant role in maintaining pregnancy immediately following conception.

Causes of Early Embryonic Loss

Researchers in Minnesota, South Dakota, and Wyoming saw rises in early embryonic loss if either of the next two situations occurred:

  1. A significant decline in energy intake.
  2. Moving from stored feed to pasture.

Nutrition Indicators that Signal Problems Getting Cows Pregnant

Limitations. Every dairy farm has to deal with them.  Here are four that affect pregnancy rates.

  1. There are cows not showing heats and anestrus in early lactation
  2. Energy deficiency is the first limiting nutrient in your herd if your cows are not cycling.
  3. You or your adviser have identified a deficiency of minerals and vitamins in your ration
  4. You or your adviser have identified an excess of protein in your ration

It’s time to do something about eliminating these limiting factors.

The Sperm in the Uterus.  Take Care of It!

In cattle, the fetus does not immediately become attached to the uterus endometrium. This means that it spends several days in the lumen of the uterus. During this time, uterine secretions nourish and provide the enzymes, hormones and other metabolic factors that the fetus needs for development. These nutrients are comprised of glucose, fructose, some triglycerides and amino acids. Glucose is the primary source of energy for the developing fetus, and similar to pre-breeding, energy is probably the first limiting nutrient for fetus growth and development.

Supplement with Methionine to Prevent Pregnancy Loss

One way to improve both milk production and reproduction is to supplement rations with methionine for a lysine to methionine ratio (% of MP) of 2.8 to 1.

Researchers fed a methionine-supplemented diet to early lactation cows with 2,500 grams of metabolizable protein (MP)—6.9% of MP as lysine and 2.3% of MP as methionine. The methionine-supplemented cows had slightly less pregnancy loss following breeding than cows fed the same diet with no supplemental methionine (1.9% of MP).

How to Optimize Pregnancy Maintenance

Certain amino acids give rise to glucose as well as glycerol levels. Optimizing the amounts of and the digestion of starch is the best way to increase the glucose supply to the dairy cow.

Methionine, lysine, and histidine are considered the first three limiting amino acids in milk production and milk component levels. They also increase in uterine secretion as the embryo elongates and prepares for implantation in the uterus endometrium.

Wisconsin researchers report an increase of 14.4% for lysine, 12.4% for methionine and 11.5% for histidine in the pregnant uterus near the time of implantation compared to a non-pregnant uterus. Methionine is of particular interest in the early fetus stage because of its role in lipid metabolism and gene expression.

Current studies using DHA in lactating cows are aimed at enhancing the quality of the uterine epithelium, modifying and attenuating the release of prostaglandin F-2a and thus ensuring a higher pregnancy rate resulting from better maternal recognition of pregnancy and subsequent maintenance of pregnancy (Read more: 8 Things You MUST Know About The BLV Virus)

Get Ready to Formulate a Preconception Diet

We are well-prepared to monitor the nutrition of the pregnant animal, and to meet the needs of the milking cow, but too often we are overlooking the importance of the preconception diet!

Long before that heifer/cow is safely in calf, what she eats matters.  In fact, the right preconception diet can not only fuel fertility, but can also ensure that you get a healthier calf on board.

Not sure how to turn your dairy diet into one that’s beneficial for preconception and pregnancy? Follow these five easy steps:

  1. Commit to change. The first step to overhauling your preconception nutrition is to know exactly what you’re committing to and why. The why? Well, that’s pretty clear. You want to make the healthiest calf possible, as quickly as possible.  Your goal is to improve your current pregnancy success rate.
  2. Identify WHO needs to Change? So you’re willing to make changes.  It is important to know what change will produce the targeted result. Depending on what you have learned from an analysis of your records, you may also need to reconsider “who” is best suited to take responsibility. A veterinarian, nutritionist or feed consultant – or all three may have valuable input in overcoming pregnancy maintenance challenges.
  3. Identify WHAT needs to Change?  Even the most conscientious dairy manager may find themselves second guessing when it comes to formulating a preconception diet. Trying to scale down weight? (Extra pounds can decrease fertility.) Trying to gain weight (too thin may be having an adverse impact). Then you’ll probably have to work on quantity and quality.
  4. Get Ready to Pop a Prenatal Vitamin. No human preconception diet is complete without a prenatal supplement that’s packed with folic acid and other essential baby-making nutrients. What parallel are you using in enhancing the conditions in the uterus. Think of it as health insurance for your future calf.
  5. More feed. More often.  This isn’t the time for a hit or miss access to the feed bunk. You may want to consider trading up to the six meal solution that human pre-natal consultants advise when a woman is trying to conceive. Dairy cows should consume frequent, small meals spread out over the day.  To achieve this, we need to ensure they have good access to their ration throughout the day. This can be accomplished through the frequent delivery of feed,  frequent feed push-up, and by providing sufficient space at the feed bunk. Extensive sorting of feed should be avoided.

It’s a balancing act.  Any one of these five variables could be affecting your success. And this isn’t the entire list by any means.

The Bullvine Bottom Line –  “Better Endings Start Even Before the Beginning!”

Successful dairy operations depend on conception. It makes sense to look at nutrition that impacts that status. Despite many advances in dairy cattle breeding, there are still challenges associated with starting a successful pregnancy.  Take action now! The preconception diet can have a surprisingly significant impact. Success has to mean better than 50%.



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Awareness is one of the best tools dairy managers can make use of.  A daily barn or pasture walk with boots that don`t hesitate to poke into manure piles behind the cattle, can be a valuable signal of what`s happening with herd health and nutrition.  No special equipment is required to make a speedy determination of the color, consistency and content of the manure being passed by a group of dairy cows.

The Three C’s: Consistency, Color and Content

If the cows share the same diet, their manure should share similar characteristics.  In a 200-cow dairy, a walk-through that checks the manure of 15 to 20 cows should be able to provide enough observations to draw conclusions. The expectation is that less than five per cent will stand out as significantly different from the general herd.  It is important to determine what is causing the difference.

Check Consistency First!

Feed drives production.  Knowing the digestion status of the working cows is an important tool for making management decisions. What you see in the manure output, should be porridge-like and produce the dome-shaped  1 or 2 inch thick ‘plop’ that is the sign of healthy digestion.   Feed type, the nutrient and fibre content, water quality and intake and passage rate all have an impact on the final product.  Restricted water or protein produces firmer feces.  Dehydration results in firm balls of manure. Seeing loose feces or diarrhea may indicate excessive protein intake or high levels of rumen degradable protein.  Manure may be loose during periods of stress.  Other cases of loose manure are far more serious and their actual causes seem to be harder to pinpoint. For example, sub-clinical acidosis (SARA) causes loose manure consistency to vary amongst herd members as well as other multiple changes over time for each suffering cow.

Color Paints a Management Checkpoint

Fecal color is influenced by feed type, bile concentration, and the passage rate of feedstuffs and digesta. Recognizing what is `normal` for the current type of diet being fed, sets up the opportunity to identify variations that could indicate a need for action. Typically, manure is dark green when cattle graze fresh forage and darkens to a brown-olive if animals receive a hay ration.  When cows consume a typical TMR, feces are usually a yellow-olive color. This color results from the combination of grain and forage and will vary by the amount of grain and processing of that grain. If an animal experiences diarrhea, feces may change to a gray color. Animals undergoing medical treatment may excrete abnormal colored feces as a result of drugs that are administered.  Dark or bloody manure may indicate hemorrhaging in the gastrointestinal tract from watery dysentery, mycotoxins, or coccidiosis.  Light-green or yellowish manure combined with watery diarrhea can result from bacterial infections such as salmonella. Of course, any rapid change in colors signals that something is not right and immediate corrective action needs to be taken.

Content is Last but Not Least!

The third “c” to inspect is content. The contents of manure can provide dairy managers with information about how the dairy diet is working. Manure that is produced from cows fed a well-balanced nutritious ration (with adequate effective fibre) is very uniform. It contains digested feed particles with the majority of processed forage fibre no greater than 1/2 inch, and with little escaped grain.

Long forage particles or undigested grains are a sign that rumination has been challenged and the cause needs to be determined.  It could be a problem with the animal or with the processing of the grain itself.  Obviously these large particles in the manure mean that the nutrition in them has not been made available to the animals or to rumen microbes.

Mucus is another indicator to use as an alert.  The presence of excessive amounts of mucus indicates chronic inflammation of or injury to gut tissue. Mucin casts also may be observed. These indicate damage to the large intestine, possibly caused by extensive hindgut fermentation and low pH. The mucin is produced by cells lining the intestine in an attempt to heal the affected area. As well manure that appears foamy or bubbly may indicate lactic acidosis or excessive hindgut fermentation resulting in gas production.

A Poop Picture Helps with Informed Decision Making

manure scoring

Manure scores 1 and 5 are not desirable and may reflect a health problem besides dietary limitations. Score 4 droppings may reflect a need to rebalance the ration. As cows progress through their lactation, manure score may also shift as outlined below.

  • Fresh cows (score 2 to 2 ½)
  • Early lactation cows (2 ½ to 3)
  • Late lactation cows (3 to 3 ½)
  • Far off dry cows (3 to 4)
  • Close up dry cows (2 ½ to 3 ½)

Increasing the amount of degradable, soluble, or total protein; deceasing the amount or physical form of the fiber; increasing starch level, decreasing grain particle size (such as fine grinding or steam flaking), and consuming excess minerals (especially potassium and sodium) can cause manure scores to decline (for example from 3 to 2).

The color of manure is influenced by feed, amount of bile, and passage rate. Cows on pasture are dark green while hay based rations are more brown. High grain-based diets are more gray-like. Slower rates of passage causes the color to darken and become more ball-shaped with a shine on the surface due to mucus coating. Score 1 may be more pale due to more water and less bile content. Hemorrhage in the small intestine causes black and tar-like manure while bleeding in the rectum results in red to brown discoloration or streaks of red.

Physical Analysis

When it comes right down to manure evaluation, you have to get right down to it.  After the 3 C’s inspection using eyes, boots and cow sense information, it’s time to look deeper. Collect at least five manure samples that appear to be representative of the group of animals. Mix the collected samples and place a pint-sized sample on a .05-.08- inch mesh sieve or in a strainer. Using a hose, wash a gentle, steady stream of water over the sieve, passing across the sample continuously until the water running from the bottom of the sieve is clear. Then gently use running water to roll or float the particles to one corner of the sieve and remove all material from the sieve.

Place the washed sample on a flat dark surface and examine it for the following:

  • Long fiber particles — It is inevitable that some long forage particles will appear, but if most are greater than 0.5 inch there may be cause for concern. Poor digestion of forages may be due to the makeup of the fiber component of the diet (low quality forages) or to the ability of the animal to digest the forage being fed (poorly balanced rations).
  • Grain particles — The small intestine is capable of digesting starch, allowing the cow to utilize this nutrient. However, the amount of starch digested is limited by the rate of digesta passage through the small intestine.

The Bullvine Bottom Line

It cannot be overemphasized how important it is to effectively manage herd health and nutrition.  Every tool that informs that decision making process is valuable and manure evaluation is a valuable link in that chain of understanding.  Don`t overlook the simplicity of a boots through the barn examination of your herd’s manure production.  It’s not science but it gives the start to analyzing how your dairy diet is being consumed, digested and left behind.



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Water: Your Most Important Liquid Asset

Thursday, April 24th, 2014

It would be a rare dairy manager that would choose to limit water as a cost saving management decision.  Managers know the key role that water plays in order for their herds to thrive. Water is the most important essential nutrient behind feed intake, not only of lactating cows, but also promotes growth and development in young calves and older heifers.

The most basic understanding of the health needs of cattle, dictates that dehydration is a negative.  The very nature of the lactating cow requires that sufficient quantities of water must be provided to facilitate milk production.   This is also true at every stage of bovine growth.

Let’s start with how water contributes to the growth of healthy calves because of the way it promotes early and rapid rumen development.  For some water may seem somewhat unnecessary when considering that calves consume milk or milk replacer.  However, a high percentage of milk and milk replacer end up in the abomasum and not very much milk replacer ends up in the rumen.  On the other hand, nearly all the water that calves drink goes into the rumen, where it contributes to fermentation and the grain & water slurry that promotes early papillae growth.

The All Day Calf Cafe

  • It is especially critical for their future growth that water is available to calves throughout the day. Of course the challenge isn’t simply to provide it, but to do so regardless of the weather.  Extremely cold temperatures and the resulting frozen buckets must be dealt with to provide water to calves in hutches in the winter. Under heat stressing conditions water needs are increased 1.2 to 2 fold.  In addition, Dr. Simon Peek, University of Wisconsin, emphasizes that timing is also important.  He urges that water be provided immediately after feeding, even in the winter months.  In general, preweaned calves usually drink about a quart of water for each pound of starter consumed.  This is in addition to their milk or milk replacer.

The benefits of free-choice water for calves:

  • At 4 weeks of age calves with free-choice water drink roughly 95 pounds (12 gallons) of water.
  • Free choice water calves also consume more pounds of starter grain.  One study reported roughly forty-four percent more grain in the first four weeks for calves that had constant access to water.
  • A 1984 study reported that for each extra liter of water consumed there was a corresponding increase in weight gain of 56 grams per day. Weight gains prior to weaning have been shown to lead to greater milk production as a cow.

Nevertheless the real challenge is making sure that the calves actually drink the water. When it is provided at close to body temperature during cold weather, they are more likely to drink. The extra work required to empty and refill water buckets through the day is well worth it because of the benefits of hydration and increased starter ingestion.  Although there can be variation from day to day it is far better to overfill buckets rather than have a situation where calves run out of water. As well, it has been shown that separation of feed and drinking water eliminates contamination and will increase feed intake and body weight gains by as much as 13 and 20%, respectively, compared with having the buckets side-by-side.

Eat, Drink Water and Be Milky

Free choice water for calves may be a newer priority however dairy managers have always recognized that it is important to provide lactating cows with water.  It is not only essential for milk production, growth and healthbut also impacts rumen function, nutrient digestion and absorption.

Every pound of milk a cow produces requires five pounds or three litres of water.  For high producing cows that totals up to 200 litres of water every day.  Reduce the amount of water and you reduce the amount of milk produced.

It is known that cows drink 30 to 50 percent of their daily water intake within an hour of milking.  Clean fresh water must be easily accessible to all cows. An easy benchmark for water palatability is this: “If you won’t drink the water in your barn, neither will your cows.” Water quality and water intake are closely related.

Of course, clean water bowls or tanks are a given.  Basic best practices are as follows:

  • Water bowls should provide 20 litres per minute for cows
  • Water tanks should supply 30 to  40 litres per minute
  • One water trough is needed for every 20 cows
  • Two water sources per group are needed to avoid stress situations for lower ranked cows
  • Water tanks should be easily accessible
  • 2.5 to 3 m of open space around troughs are needed to minimize pushing and shoving

Test the Waters

Toxicity is an issue to be avoided at all costs.  Palatability comes in high on the priority list too.  If the water that is presented fails to pass the taste test, all the benefits are lost.  For these two reasons alone, it is worth considering having the water supply to your dairy tested.  A treatment system may be necessary to reduce sulfate and chloride levels. Visible problems with algae are easy to see and hopefully eliminate.  It is important to minimize algae levels.  There are six types of algae that are toxic to cattle.  Use 35% hydrogen peroxide (8 ounces per 1000 gallons of water) to control algae populations.  It would seem logical to use chlorine to treat water for dissolved iron, magnesium and hydrogen sulfide.  However chlorine concentration over 1000 ppm can result in milk fat depression and reduced water intake.

Is Enough Water Enough?

Once you have determined its safety and palatability, it is critical that you know if your cows are getting enough water for their age and stage of lactation.  The following are indications that water isn’t meeting the needs of your animals:

  • Firm, constipated manure
  • Low urine output
  • High packed-cell volume or hematocrit in blood
  • Considerable drops in milk production
  • Drinking urine or pooled water
  • Cows bawling even when adequate food is present

Causes for Low Intake

  • Corroded valves, clogged pipes, buildup of slime or scale
  • Stray voltage
  • Stress free access
  • Dirty bowls or water tanks

Water as a Sustainable Resource

No discussion of water can be complete without considering the resource itself.  On a dairy farm, water use can range from 12 to 150 gallons per cow per day. This huge difference depends upon who cares about and monitors how much water is used.  Farms that metre their water use and set standards have very little water use compared to farms that don’t, without restricting the needs of the herd.  Best practices for water usage in milking parlors, wash pens and evaporative cooling systems (in warm climates) are the reality of the future. When all is said and done, responsible use of this finite resource will have a direct impact on the sustainability of the dairy industry above and beyond the life-giving value it has in providing nutrition, growth and milk production.

As an example of how water can become a crisis situation today, it is only necessary to look at the current drought in California.  California Governor Jerry Brown declared a state of emergency last month.  Hundreds of thousands of acres will not be planted this spring. Farmers have been refused the water they requested from a federally controlled system.  Farmers who manage the 1.5 million cattle in California are very aware of the dwindling supply of both surface water allocations and groundwater sources.  The state has identified 10 rural towns with less than 100 days of supply remaining. Added to the problem of supply is the increasing problem with contamination.

The Bullvine Bottom Line

Any restriction on the availability of clean, fresh, and high-quality water can limit calf development and impacts cows’ milk production quicker than a deficiency in any other nutrient. Water intake also regulates feed intake. Thus, understanding the importance of water and how to effectively manage your dairy feeding system to provide adequate water intake is very important.

Water is crucial to your dairy management success. Set up a comprehensive water program, not only for its role in cattle nutrition, but for every point water touches your operation from access to delivery, to cleanup and reuse.  Overlook this liquid asset and you will be left high and dry.



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Are Your Genetics Wasting Feed and Labor?

Thursday, October 10th, 2013

Throughout my education and my career in livestock improvement I have heard learned people say ‘the fields of nutrition, reproduction, management and genetics are independent of each other’. As recently as last week I had a nutritionist tell me that what geneticists do is secondary to what a nutritionist can do when it comes to on-farm profit. Well today I wish to challenge that theory of no inter-relationships.

Although I do not want to get into a back-and-forth between genetics and other disciplines, the purpose for this article is to challenge our thinking and see if there are in fact ways that genetics can be complimentary to nutrition, reproduction and management. It takes all disciplines working collaboratively to enhance on-farm profits thereby providing consumers with the dairy products they wish to consume.

If a stranger walked into your facilities and told you that you are wasting 20% of the feedstuffs you produce or that 20% of your daily labor could be eliminated would you throw them off the farm? Or would you stop and listen and consider taking action? If that stranger was your genetic supplier would you continue to consider their advice or would you scoff at them saying that “the genetics you use can not reduce your costs or increase your revenue”.

The following are areas that have a genetic component to them that deserve consideration:


Heifers not calving before 24 months or cows with an extra month or two in the dry pens each lactation take feed and labor at the rate of $2 to $4 (avg $3) per day. A heifer that does not calve until 27 months and takes an extra 45 days per lactation in the dry pen has costs an unnecessary $675 by the time she starts her fourth lactation at 69 months of age. By that time that heifer should be half way thru her fourth lactation. She not only costs an extra $675 but has lost $3000 in milk and progeny revenue by 69 months of age. The dollars lost add up quickly.

Genetically consider using only sires that are well above average for DPR  +1.0 / DF 105, cull heifers and cows with below average fertility ratings either their genetic rating or actual performance, and do not use bulls or retain females that are below 100 for Body Conditioning Score. If you are buying embryos or replacement females be sure to look at the genetic fertility ratings. Making excuses for buying below average animals or embryos is false economy. Another factor that is not a genetic rating, but has a direct bearing on reproduction is Sire Conception Rating. Remember that for each 21 days (one cycle) a female is open it costs $63 and that does not consider increased semen and insemination costs.

Productive Life / Herd Life

Improving just one year of herd life, from a herd average of three to four lactations, can markedly improve the revenue a cow will generate in her lifetime. An extra 26,000 pound or 12,000 kgs per cow per lifetime also reduces the number of heifers that need to be raised or purchased.  In a 300 milking cow herd the total of added revenue and reduced heifer costs can be as much as $300 net per cow per year. As heifer rearing is no longer a major profit centre, like it once was, why incur the feed and labor costs of extra heifers?

Using sires that are at least PL +4.5 or HL 110 is strongly recommended. Females should not be retained for breeding or replacement or purchased as embryos where the cow family members do not make it to third lactation.


The volume of fat and protein produced by each cow each day is a key factor for revenue generation (Read more: Is too much water milking your profits? and 5 things you must consider when breeding for milk production). When that can be done with a lesser volume of water it means less strain on the cow and less water to transport to the milk processor. High output of components means fewer cows needing to be fed and milked to produce a given quantity of fat and protein.  If daily yields are only moderate then feed is wasted feeding too many cows. At the processor more concentrated milk means less water needs to be removed and disposed of. It is a win–win for both the producer and the processor.

To achieve high fat plus protein yields requires that the sires used need to be ranked high genetically for total solids yield. In sire proofs that equates to bulls with 90 kgs fat + protein in Canada and 75 lbs in the USA. Cows should be culled for low total fat + protein yields per day not on volume of milk produced. When purchasing embryos make sure that the genetic merit for fat + protein yield is high.

Udder Health

On a continual basis the requirement for the maximum number of somatic cells in milk is lowered. It is estimated that each case of mastitis costs at least $300 in lost production and drugs. Add to that the extra labor required and the total cost, to all dairy farmers, associated with mastitis is huge.  Sometimes we forgive cows and bulls with poor SCS rating because they have a high rating for a single other trait. That is false economy when you factor in the cost of feed, labour and lost milk revenue. We need to be paying more attention to milk quality in the future than we have in the past.

Animals above 3.00 for SCS should not be used in your breeding program. Better still would be to aim for using bulls that are 2.80 and lower for SCS.  Of note is the fact that as of December 2013 CDN will be producing sire indexes for Mastitis Resistance (Read more: Official Genetic Evaluation for Mastitis Resistance).

Calving Ease

Producers have placed emphasis on calving ease over the past decade. It is now at the point where concern relative to calving difficulty is only mentioned for first calving heifers. Labor is saved with unassisted calvings. As well the dam and calf both get off to better starts. Less drug usage and quicker breeding back of the dam add up to major dollars saved no matter what the herd size.

Bulls receive indexes for both the ease with which their calves are born and for the ease with which their daughters give birth. It is advised to not use bulls that are rated below average for both direct and maternal calving ease.

Other Factors

  • Feet and Legs: Cows without mobility problems save on labor, lost feed and lost revenue.  Use sires that are average or above average for both heel depth and rear legs rear view. Calves and heifers with feet and leg problems seldom get better with age. (Read more: Cow Mobility: One Step Forward or Two Steps Back?)
  • Feed Conversion: In all livestock there are genetic differences in the ability to convert feed to end product. As yet we do not know those genetic differences in dairy cattle but we will know them in time. (Read more: Feed Efficiency: The Money Saver and 30 Sires that will produce Feed Efficient Cows) In is a fact that big cows, producing similar volumes to a medium sized cow, can not be as efficient as they must eat feed to maintain their larger body mass. Some (New Zealand, Ireland, NMS formula,…) already have a negative weighting for body size in their total index formula In the future breeders need to be prepared to select for feed efficiency and likely re-think the ideal cow size. Stay tuned. Research is already underway on feed conversion in dairy cattle.
  • Milking Speed: Slow milking cows were once tolerated in tie stall barns even though they required more labor. Now with parlour, rotary and even robotic systems, cows that slow down the parlour process or that mean fewer cows per robot are not tolerated. Sire indexes for milking speed are available on all bulls in Canada and are often available from bull studs in other countries. Avoid using bulls that leave slow milkers.
  • Polled: Labor required and animal set backs after dehorning are negatives at the farm level. For consumers animal treatment/care is often a concern that may affect milk product consumption. Polled is not just trendy it will be the norm in the future. (Read more: Why Is Everyone So Horny For Polled?, From the Sidelines to the Headlines, Polled is Going Mainline! and Polled Genetics: Way of the Future or Passing Fad?),  Genetic tests are now available that accurate identify animals as homozygous or heterozygous for polled. With each passing month the genetic merit for top polled animals for total merit (TPI, LPI NM$,..) is increasing. Producers need to decide when they will start to breed for polled.

The Bullvine Bottom Line

Every discipline is important to improving on-farm profits. Research at CDN showed that improved genetics accounted for, at least, 40% of the increase in on-farm profitability. Genetics can help reduce the two biggest on-farm cost – feed and labor.  As well it can help drive up revenue per cow. Conclusion: Genetics can save on feed and labor costs. And Genetics can help generate more profit.

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