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Top 3 August proof takeaways…

…to help you create more Alta 4-EVENT COWS

1. There’s a variety of new Alta bulls that will sire Alta 4-EVENT COWS

No matter your comfort level on sire reliability, we have some impressive new sires atop our marketing lists.

  • Alta G-STARS
    You currently have access to nearly 100 G-STAR sires! Among that list are sires that will fit whichever genetic plan is the right one for your operation.

 

  • Alta FUTURE STARS
    6 of the top 8 FUTURE STARS are new to the list. They join this the FUTURE STAR ranks after gaining calving ease observations to pair with their high fertility CONCEPT PLUS ratings. The familiar names in this elite group include AltaRONDON, AltaBUGGY, AltaALTUVE, AltaNITRO, AltaWILLIE, AltaGILMORE.

 

  • Daughter-proven new releases
    11HO11779 AltaTOPSHOT tops the line-up of bulls with milking daughters. With 164 milking daughters, he increased 125 points on the 6040 index and 111 for both TPI and NM$. What makes this even more exciting is that we have numerous AltaTOPSHOT sons at Alta, who gained traction on various rankings to fit your strategic genetic objectives.Other new release sires include popular sire of sons 11HO11778 AltaROBSON, as well as AltaTURNKEY, and AltaAMULET.
4 event cow

2. Stability will improve for fertility traits

You can have confidence in the future stability of a bull’s DPR, CCR and HCR values. A new calculation update from CDCB means that previous fluctuations for these female fertility traits should now be a thing of the past. So, with August proofs, keep in mind that industry averages for DPR did change as follows:

  • HO genomic young bulls: ↓0.6
  • HO dtr-proven bulls: ↓0.3
  • JE genomic young bulls: ↓0.3
  • JE dtr-prven bulls: no average change

Looking for more info? Read more about these changes HERE.

3. Focus on sire fertility to create more 4-EVENT COWS

We share your goal – to create more pregnancies on your dairy. Getting cows pregnant on the first service is a key piece to the puzzle of creating more Alta 4-EVENT COWS.

Regardless if you use conventional semen or sexed semen in your strategic breeding plan, we’ve got you covered. You have access to a LOT of sires that have proven themselves with higher conception rates than the norm – on large progressive dairies, just like yours.

ConceptPlus_subtext_color_RGB

CONCEPT PLUS high fertility sires will help you create more pregnancies with conventional semen.

High Fertility Sexed Sires

511 CONCEPT PLUS high fertility sexed sires will help you create more sexed pregnancies.

So if creating more pregnancies is a main goal of yours, be sure to focus on fertility as part of your customized genetic plan.

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New bulls top the Alta daughter-proven ranks

Familiar Alta sire names, now on top of the daughter-proven sire lists, were all previous staples on the G-STAR, FUTURE STAR, and/or Alta ADVANTAGE lists.

As the daughters of these bulls join the milking herd, you gain confirmation that they’re the type of bulls to help you create more productive, healthy, trouble-free cows. With real daughter information on health traits, production values, and sire fertility, our leading sires provide your dairy with traits that create more Alta 4-EVENT COWS.

Bomaz Topshot 277
Bomaz Topshot 277 from Bomaz Dairy, Hammond, WI

Bomaz AltaTOPSHOT
Supershot x AltaEMBASSY
GA6040: 1043 | 2754 TPI | Alta511

  • Impressive 178 pounds combined fat and protein
  • Long-lasting, healthy, trouble-free cows at 7.4 PL
  • Helps you create Alta 4-EVENT COWS with +1043 value on the 6040 index and +2128 PTA Milk
  • Available as Alta 511
Bomaz Robson 7804
Bomaz Robson 7804 at Bomaz Dairy, Hammond, WI

Bomaz AltaROBSON
Rubicon x Bob
GA6040: 891 | 2713 TPI | Alta511

  • Feed efficient cattle with superior component percentages
  • Very fertile, trouble-free daughters at 2.2 DPR and 7.0 PL
  • Sire of sons, his progeny are favorites on the current Alta G-STAR list
3 Daughters of AltaTURNKEY
3 Daughters of AltaTURNKEY at Boadwine Dairy, Baltic, SD

PEAK AltaTURNKEY
Wickham x Ransom
GA6040: 832 | 2609 TPI | CP, 511CP & Alta511

  • Outstanding sire fertility, with both CONCEPT PLUS and 511 CONCEPT PLUS designations
  • Easy calvings at a 4.8 CE
  • Newly added type daughters prove that he sires deep and open dairy cows with high, wide rear udders
  • Currently available as Alta 511
Pine Breeze Amulet
Pine Breeze Amulet 9639 from Pine Breeze Dairy in Pine River, WI

PEAK AltaAMULET
Josuper x Mogul
2549 TPI | CP, 511CP & Alta511

  • Elite sire fertility, as a CONCEPT PLUS AND 511 CONCEPT PLUS sire
  • A type and udder specialist at +2.06 PTAT and +2.54 UDC
  • More than 100 production daughters prove his strong focus on production with +2069 PTAM
  • Currently available as Alta 511
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20 times in the making

The 2019 Alta ADVANTAGE Showcase Tour marked a milestone as the 20th edition of the most progressive dairy management tour in the industry.

More than 250 guests from 21 different countries gathered together in Sioux Falls, South Dakota June 25-28, 2019. This was the first time ever that the Showcase Tour took place in the US Central Plains region, as guests toured Alta partner dairies in southwestern Minnesota, northwestern Iowa, and eastern South Dakota.

Thank you to our host farms

We thank the following farms that opened their operations to share their progressive approaches to herd management throughout the three-day tour:

  • Ocheda Dairy | Worthington, MN
  • Boadwine Dairy | Baltic, SD
  • Van Ess Dairy and VanEss Heifer Farm | Sanborn, IA
  • City View Farms | Sutherland, IA
  • Drumgoon Dairy | Lake Norden, SD
  • Sunrise Dairy | Castlewood, SD

So much to learn!

From the owners and managers of these forward-thinking dairies, guests had the chance to discuss everything from converting to robotic milking systems and eliminating antibiotics, to manure management, nutrition, and parlors, to heifer management, breeding strategies, and Alta’s alignment with progressive dairies. Evenings included great conversation and friendly competitions for guests to meet and mingle with fellow dairy producers from around the world.

20 times in the making…

With the 20th tour now complete, here’s a peek back at a few impressive stats from those tours:

  • 20 Alta ADVANTAGE Showcase Tours
  • 13 years
  • More than 5000 total guests
  • 150 farms visited
  • ~400,000 cows represented at these host farms
  • 765 total Showcase Tour stations discussing a diverse array of management topics

Thank you for being a part of the 20th Showcase Tour experience!

Check out tour photos and videos below.

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What’s in a healthy cow?

Think about the healthiest cows in your herd. What defines them as your healthiest?

Is it their older age? Is it the fact they’ve never had mastitis? Or are they the ones that leave the fresh pen quickly after calving because they don’t have the lingering effects that come with milk fever, metritis, a retained placenta, ketosis or a DA?

We’re willing to bet that your healthiest cows are the ones you don’t even notice. They’re not on your radar because they simply go about their business, producing high-quality milk with no troubles to you or your team of employees.

We call those unnoticed cows, the four-event cows. If you look at a cow card on your herd management software program, you’ll recognize a four-event cow by the lack of items on her list. Throughout her lactation, she experiences only four events: 1-fresh; 2-bred; 3-confirmed pregnant; and 4-dry.

When those are the only four events in a cow’s lactation, chances are she’s profitable and healthy.

A healthy cow is the resulting sum of many parts: a solid nutrition program, exceptional transition and fresh cow care, proper milking procedures, comfortable housing – and the right genetics!

While genetics makes up only a small part of the full equation, it’s a real and measurable aspect of what’s in a healthy cow.

Healthy genetics?

In April of 2018, the Council on Dairy Cattle Breeding (CDCB) released a new set of health traits. These traits are based on the database of recorded cases of common, costly health problems in dairy cattle. These six new traits measure the resistance that animals will have to each respective health and metabolic issue and are in place to help dairy producers breed a next generation of healthier cows.

They include mastitis, labeled as MAST, ketosis (KETO), retained placenta (RETP), metritis (METR), displaced abomasum (DA), and milk fever (MFEV).

Taking advantage of the new health traits in your genetic plan offers a great opportunity to create healthier cows. Most of these new traits are also correlated with Productive Life, so if you want the simplest approach to healthier genetics, Productive Life has you covered.

 Healthier genetics, plain and simple

For more than two decades, PL has told us how many more, or fewer, months a cow is expected to produce within any given herd. While cows are most often culled because of low production or poor fertility, those reasons typically trace back to more specific health issues in the cow’s life.

Selecting for PL or the new health traits within your genetic plan will help you address any specific health issues in your herd.

We know this from the DairyComp analyses we’ve done on many large, progressive herds. In the following example, we analyzed the a well-managed, 2400-cow dairy that does a great job at accurately recording health events. We compared the animals whose sires had the highest average PL against the animals whose sires had the lowest PL values.

No animals are given preferential treatment – they are all cared for with the same, high level management practices. With no other differences separating these animals except their sires’ PL values, we compared how many health events each group had. We looked specifically at cases of mastitis, ketosis, retained placentas, metritis, displaced abomasum, and milk fever.

As expected, Table 1 shows that the cows in the High PL group had far fewer cases for each health event.

Table 1# of cowsAvg. Sire PLMastitisKetosisRetained PlacentaMetritisDisplaced Abomasum
Low PL cows6071.325822323329
High PL cows6006.279316167
Difference4.917919161722

The economics of healthy genetics

We know these health events have a cost attached to each case, and CDCB has calculated those figures. The dollar value put on each case is modest – not accounting for lost production or decreased fertility. Their calculated values only measure the direct costs associated with each trait.

Let’s take those costs and apply them to our example herd. To do this, we multiplied the dollar value per health event by the difference in number of events between the low PL group and the high PL group. Table 2 shows the economic impact of Productive Life within a 2100-cow dairy.

Table 2MastitisKetosisRetained PlacentaMetritisDisplaced AbomasumMilk Fever
CDCB-calculated cost per health event$75 $28 $68 $112 $197 $34
Difference in health events based on sire PL1791916172212
Total cost in this herd$13,425 $532 $1,088 $1,904 $4,334 $408
=$21,691

This farm saves a total of $21,691 just because of the genetics in its healthy cows!

Want healthier cows? Genetics will help.

If you include Productive Life, or any of the six new health traits, within your customized genetic plan, you will create a next generation of unnoticed cows – the type that produce well and go about their business with few health troubles.

Environment, cow comfort and management practices all play a leading role in the health of your herd. Now you also see how genetics can positively impact both cow health and the economic health of your dairy.

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Jersey generation counts and breed purity

Breed purity is a hot topic for Jerseys.

Many elite Jersey sires have Holstein heritage somewhere in their pedigree. The Jersey Genetic Recovery and Jersey Expansion programs have allowed those bulls to upgrade to registered status.

These programs allow breeders to enroll animals that appear as Jerseys, or are sired by a Jersey bull, into the herd registry. While the programs are beneficial in growing the registered Jersey population, many producers are now confused as to just what qualifies an AI bull as a Jersey.

The American Jersey Cattle Association (AJCA) board of directors developed some visual cues within an animal’s registered name to eliminate confusion on Jersey breed purity.

Generation Count and a JX prefix have been added to full names to signify a hole in the pedigree or unknown dairy ancestry. Breed Base Representation (BBR) is now displayed on all animals recorded with the ACJA to represent the amount of Jersey blood within the pedigree.

Generation Count (GC)

Generation Count shows breed purity by telling how many generations an animal is removed from other breed ancestry. An animal’s name will include a suffix enclosed in brackets {  }. The number within the brackets tells us the number of AJCA-recoded ancestry, from 1-6.

A GC of 1 means the animal is one generation removed from an unknown or non-Jersey in the pedigree. A GC of 6 means the animal is six generations removed from an unknown or non-Jersey animal. The brackets telling the generation count are dropped when seven or more generations of ancestors are recorded by the AJCA.

Offspring of a mating will be one generation count higher than the lowest parent.

JX Prefix

In addition to the number within the brackets, a JX prefix is also found on the majority of the pedigrees that contain a generation count. The JX prefix indicates that there is unknown dairy (most commonly Holstein) parentage in the pedigree. The GC then tells us how far back in the pedigree the unknown dairy breed can be found.

If you see a bull with a GC but no JX prefix, that means that the missing part in the pedigree is an unidentified Jersey.

Breed Base Representation (BBR)

BBR is a genomic trait that compares the DNA of a genotyped animal to a Jersey reference group and all other breeds. The Council on Dairy Cattle Breeding (CDCB) policy is to report BBR values of 94 or greater as 100 due to standard deviations. Bulls below BBR 94 will be noted on their pedigree. The AJCA will publish a BBR value for all recorded animals.

Males will be published on one of two reports.

Males on the main list include those who:

  • are Herd Registered
    • more than 6 generations of identified Jersey parentage
  • have a Generation Count of 4-6 and a BBR of 100

Males on the secondary list include those with a:

  • Generation Count of 3 (regardless of BBR)
  • Generation Count of 4-6, if their BBR is less than 94

The examples below show the bull pages for three bulls with different breed purity. It explains where to find generation count, the JX prefix and breed base representation.

AltaBAYNES {3}

A. The 3 in brackets shows that AltaBAYNES is 3 generations removed from non-Jersey ancestry.
B. The JX prefix in his full, registered name, means that the missing link in his pedigree, 3 generations back, is not a Jersey.
C. Shows AltaBAYNES’ BBR to be 98, meaning he has 98% of his genes in common with the reference Jersey population.

Offspring of AltaBAYNES will be Generation Count 4 and Non-HR.

AltaMONTRA {6}

A. The 6 in brackets shows that AltaMONTRA is 6 generations removed from non-Jersey ancestry.
B. The JX prefix in his full, registered name, means that the missing link in his pedigree, 6 generations back, is not a Jersey.
C. Shows AltaMONTRA’s BBR to be 100, meaning his genes are all in common with the reference Jersey population.

Offspring will be Generation Count 6 if he is mated to a GC 5 female. Offspring will be HR (herd registered) if he is mated to a GC 6 or HR female

High Fertility Sexed Sires

AltaCHIVE

A. Because there is not a bracketed number with AltaCHIVE’s name, that means he is herd registered, with either with no ancestry that is non-Jersey, or any non-Jersey ancestry is further back than 6 generations.
B. Because there is no non-Jersey ancestry within the first 6 generations of AltaCHIVE’s pedigree, he also does not have a JX prefix in his full, registered name.
C. Shows AltaCHIVE’s BBR to be 100. As expected, that means his genes are all in common with the reference Jersey population.

Offspring will be HR with no generation count if he is mated to a GC 6 or HR female.

At Alta, we are committed to providing you with the most reliable genetics available. In order to fulfill this promise, we offer a diversified Jersey product lineup focusing on the traits that are most profitable to your bottom line.

We have the highest level of confidence in the genetic and genomic predictions of BBR 100 bulls. We recognize that clients have choices, so we will always market with full transparency.

To learn more about the Rules for the Registration and Transfer of Jersey Cattle, click HERE.

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Producers gain applicable reproductive knowledge

Sixteen producers from several provinces gained applicable knowledge on reproductive strategies at the Alta Dairy Manager School held in Ottawa, ON December 5-7, 2018.

In this intense, 2.5-day course, participants learned through a mix of classroom sessions and on-farm training. They studied the newest, research-based ideas in reproduction in a small class setting. This set-up allowed everyone to ask the real questions that relate to their own farm’s current situations and future goals. Participants left the training with real ideas they could implement on their farms to improve their herd reproduction and profitability.

Dairy Manager School presenters included Dr. Luís Mendonça, Dr. Glaucio Lopes and Chris Rember.

Dr. Luís Mendonça presents to participants during the Canadian Dairy Manager School on reproduction
Dr. Luís Mendonça presents to participants during the Canadian Dairy Manager School on reproduction.
Dairy Manager School participants learn herd reproductive strategies during the on-farm portion of the school.
Dairy Manager School participants learn herd reproductive strategies during the on-farm portion of the school.
Chris Rember, Alta Genetics Elite Account Manager, shares advice on heifer reproduction during the December 2018 Alta Dairy Manager School.
Chris Rember, Alta Genetics Elite Account Manager, shares advice on heifer reproduction during the December 2018 Alta Dairy Manager School.
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A sire’s progression from new to daughter-proven

Genomic proofs give us the confidence to use exciting sires sooner! You can rest assured these bulls will deliver on their genetic promises because genomic testing provides an immediate reliability of around 70% for production, health and conformation traits.

You might be wondering, what are the different genomic sire options? And how do they progress from their first release to daughter-proven status? Let’s break it down…

Alta ADVANTAGE logo

Alta ADVANTAGE

Our newest sires are available only to our loyal Alta ADVANTAGE partner herds. These Alta ADVANTAGE only sires offer diverse trait specialties and elite rankings on many different customized genetic plans.

When a bull is first old enough to be collected, he simply won’t produce enough semen to be readily available to all farms around the globe. So while we work to build semen inventory, we give our loyal Alta ADVANTAGE partner herds priority access to these elite, new sires that best fit their customized genetic plans.

Alta G-STAR logo - fast forward genetic progress

G-STARS

Once a bull starts producing enough semen, he is added to the G-STAR sire list. Many new G-STAR bulls are readily available this proof round. Among these sires are a wide array of trait outliers, and high ranks to fit your genetic plan.

Alta FUTURE STAR logo - calving ease and fertility assured

FUTURE STARS

About a year after a bull is first released, we know results for both sire fertility and calving ease. We gather this data and analyze the results. We then award the FUTURE STAR designation to only the bulls that prove themselves above average for sire fertility and have real observations that say he’s less than 8% for sire calving ease.

FUTURE STARS are the way to go if you want the benefits of elite genomics, but prefer the added peace of mind of proven sire fertility and calving ease. You may give up some production and health as compared to the available G-STAR or ADVANTAGE only sires. But you gain peace of mind knowing that you’re upping your chances for a pregnancy and a live calf resulting from an easier calving. Because of the known calving ability, FUTURE STARS are ideal options to use on heifers.

That explains the progression a bull makes as a genomic-proven sire. So you now know the difference between each genomic sire option. With that in mind, compare the average genetic level of each group in the table below.

You’ll see the newest, Alta ADVANTAGE bulls have the highest genetic averages. That’s followed by the G-STAR sires, and then by the more highly reliable FUTURE STARS. You’ll also see the comparison to daughter-proven sire averages, just for reference.

December 2018 program averagesTPIMilkProtFatPTATUDCFLCPLDPRSCS
Alta ADVANTAGE2794175068911.651.710.766.52.52.71
G-STAR2708157362841.921.891.125.52.12.80
FUTURE STAR2573161360721.521.490.874.71.92.85
DAUGHTER-PROVEN2391113142561.371.560.793.91.72.82

Despite the big difference in genetic averages between the genomic lists and daughter-proven averages, it’s important to note that every single bull atop our current daughter-proven list was once a part of the G-STAR and/or FUTURE STAR lists.

The track record is significant for our current genomic favorites. Each proof round, we see these genomic bulls deliver on their initial predictions, and eventually graduate to daughter-proven success.

 Put your genetics into action

With that in mind, have confidence to use a team of sires from the Alta ADVANTAGE, G-STAR or FUTURE STAR lists. Alternatively, if you prefer the peace of mind from higher-reliability proven sires, you’ll certainly find the right bulls to fit your needs among that list.

Select a group of bulls that meet your customized goals for production, health and conformation so you drive your progress to match your current situation and future goals.

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Top takeaways from December sire proofs

1. Sire proofs are now more accurate

The Council on Dairy Cattle Breeding (CDCB) is now using a new reference genome and additional SNPs to calculate genomic proofs. While this alone may not mean anything to you, it does affect some genetic ranks.

In addition to a different, updated reference genome they are also basing calculations off 80,000 SNPs, up from the previous 60,000.

To better explain, PEAK Geneticist, Doug Bjelland compares this to finding a house on a map. The previous reference genome and number of SNPs would help us locate on which street a house is located. The new update means we can find exactly where on that street the house is at. In short, these updates give us greater genomic proof accuracy.

Because of these updates, on average, industry sires changed as follows. However, individual bulls may have went up or down more than these averages.

  • HO daughter-proven sires: ↓8 NM$ | HO genomic-proven sires: ↓ 14 NM$
  • JE daughter-proven sires: ↓6 NM$ | JE genomic-proven sire: ↓18 NM$

Want more details on these changes, check out this CDCB article HERE.

2. You’ll find high ranking sires to fit your genetic plan

Because genomics gives us continual access to ever-increasing genetic levels, we have some exciting new bulls atop each of our marketing lists:

  • 13 brand new Alta ADVANTAGE only sires
  • 12 new G-STAR bulls
  • 11 new FUTURE STARS
  • 15 new daughter-proven favorites, including 4 of the top 10 sires on the industry LPI list!

Whether you’re looking for Holsteins or Jersey sires, you’ll find the right ones to match your current situation and future goals, regardless of the customized genetic plan you’ve set for your farm.

3. Sire fertility matters

We want to help you create more pregnancies. So we keep you as informed as possible on updated sire fertility ratings on conventional and sexed semen. Look for the orange CONCEPT PLUS logo for conventional semen or the purple 511 CONCEPT PLUS logo to know which are the highest fertility sexed sires.

To implement a true precision approach to fertility management, work with your trusted advisor.

4. Sexed semen awareness

We know sexed semen demand continues to increase on progressive dairies around the world. And we’re working hard to accommodate that demand. With this proof round, we’re bringing greater access to more available sexed sires.

Whether you choose the newest Alta 511 SexedULTRA bulls or prefer known sexed fertility through 511 CONCEPT PLUS ratings, we have the right bulls to fit your genetic plan.

5. Beef x dairy is part of a genetic strategy

Have you kicked your genetic strategies into high gear by using beef on your lower end genetic animals? If so, we have the beef sires you need. We can help you create that pregnancy to reap the benefits of an immediate premium for the beef x dairy calves.

Work with your trusted advisor to see what type of herd inventory planning and female ranking tools we can help you with as part of your herd’s genetic strategy.

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What’s a fertility leader?

Have you ever really thought about what’s involved to get highly fertile semen from the bull to your tank, and then into your cows or heifers? Fertility leadership is backed by the Alta people, processes and programs involved in every step.

PEOPLE

Fertility excellence is what drives our team! We hire and extensively train only those who share a commitment and passion to your herd’s reproductive success. From semen collection and evaluation to distribution and delivery, our barn and lab staff, veterinarians, distribution crew, technicians, and sales force are all committed to help you get cows pregnant.

PROCESSES

We deliver the highest quality semen through continual innovation. Our scientists on staff are always looking for the best ways to enhance semen quality through extender research, potency trials, and more. We implement the same, strict semen handling processes and quality control checks at each of our AI centers located in six different countries around the world.

PROGRAMS

We choose the industry’s leading sire fertility evaluation, CONCEPT PLUS, as the only way to measure Alta sire fertility. CONCEPT PLUS is based on pregnancy check results from DairyComp data in our large, progressive partner dairies. We update results every other month for the most reliable sire fertility information – and we’re transparent about which bulls offer superior or inferior fertility.

You can trust CONCEPT PLUS.

Twenty years ago, we challenged traditional fertility evaluations to align with the real needs of progressive herds: creating efficient pregnancies. CONCEPT PLUS goes above and beyond today’s industry evaluations to bring you the most trusted, accurate, and proven designation in sire fertility.

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Western Canada Colostrum Tour

Alta teamed up with Dr. Mike Nagorske from SCCL, to share news, updates and knowledge on calf rearing and colostrum management with dairy producers throughout western Canada November 26-30.

During three separate one-day sessions in British Columbia, Alberta and Manitoba, dairy producers were able to learn first hand from Dr. Nagorske about the following topics related to managing calves and colostrum.

  • Managing colostrum on day one
  • The role of transition milk for calves
  • Mimicking transition milk with colostrum replacer
  • Mitigating calf diarrhea
  • News on the importance of on-farm sanitation
  • Milk replacer feeding strategies
  • Weaning considerations based on feeding programs
  • Metrics to optimize genetic potential
  • Utilizing of average daily gain, health metrics and culling to influence future milk production
Dairy producers in Manitoba learn best practices on managing calves and colostrum. Similar sessions were held for dairy farmers in British Columbia and Alberta.
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