Maintaining a successful reproductive program in our modern dairy and beef operations requires dedication. While it is rewarding to hear a pronouncement of pregnancy, there is not much the manager can do with that information, except wait.
The use of beef sires on dairy females has continued to be a common and growing management practice on dairy farms. During the summer of 2021, UW-Madison Division of Extension educators surveyed 40 dairy farms known to be using beef sires to breed dairy females to assess their beef x dairy sire selection criteria, selection of dairy females to breed to beef sires, newborn calf management, milk feeding practices, and how they market their beef x dairy cattle.
Dairy cattle selection programs aim to improve the profitability and sustainability of the dairy industry, either by targeting traits that increase revenue or traits that reduce expenses. Fertility is one of several major trait categories that includes production, longevity, health, calving ability, conformation, and sustainability.
Raising heifers is one of the most cost-intensive areas of the farm. From the day these animals hit the ground until they calve, they are a monetary burden on the farm. Therefore, getting these animals to calving as efficiently as possible makes sense.
During the past two decades, a reproduction revolution has occurred in the dairy industry. A consequence of increased reproductive performance has been an increase in replacement heifer inventories, which in turn have decreased replacement heifer market values. Based on the UW-Extension Dairy Replacement ICPA Survey (Akins and Hagedorn, 2015), rearing costs of Holstein heifers from birth to calving averaged $2,100 from 1999 to 2015 and exceeded $2,500 in 2015.
For nearly eighty years dairy producers have been indoctrinated in the use of the AM-PM rule for artificial insemination (AI) of cattle. The AM-PM rule dictates that a cow should receive AI 12 hours after first being observed in estrus. If a cow is seen in estrus in the AM she should receive AI that PM, and cows seen in estrus in the PM should receive AI the following AM.
Reproductive data is particularly difficult to measure which makes it a challenge to measure and monitor, even on large dairy farms. Measuring reproductive performance is about measuring probabilities—the likelihood an event will occur.
Heifers represent the future of the dairy operation, bringing genetic progress to the milking herd. Raising heifers is costly and improving efficiencies in raising them can have a financial impact on the overall profitability of the dairy business.
In 2019 Cargill conducted a Feed4Thought survey of consumers from the United States, China, Mexico, and Spain. In this survey, they asked consumers to identify the word that best described what they wanted a farmer to be. The survey showed 30% of respondents wanted farmers to be “sustainable.” The second most-used word to describe what […]
Raising replacement heifers is a large investment for farmers to create the next generation for their herd. The cost of raising a replacement heifer on average is $2,500 with feed accounting for approximately 50% of the total rearing cost.1,2 The average age at first calving (AFC) has been decreasing in the United States because farmers […]