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Zero events lead to repro success

Creating a pregnancy requires your keen attention to animal health and welfare through a cow’s entire lactation.

The road to creating a pregnancy begins long before you actually inseminate the cow. It begins before you enroll a cow on a synchronization program or start monitoring heats using an activity system. In fact, successfully creating a pregnancy starts before a cow even enters the maternity pen.

IT STARTS BEFORE CALVING

It’s no secret that transition, fresh cow, and overall herd health all play key roles in a cow’s capacity to be a profitable member of your herd. Only the cows that receive proper care and nutrition throughout their transition period and at calving have the chance to become the next 4-EVENT COWS of your herd. A 4-EVENT COW is one that records just four major events in her lactation: 1-FRESH, 2-BRED, 3-CONFIRMED PREGNANT, and 4-DRY.

Of course, maintenance events like pen moves, foot trims, vaccinations, and pregnancy re-checks also occur during a cow’s lactation. But when FRESH, BRED, PREG, & DRY are the only four major events in a cow’s lactation, chances are, she’s a profitable part of your herd.

In this case, we’ll look closer at the first three events, FRESH, BRED & PREG. You’ll see that getting a cow off to the right start after she freshens truly affects her ability to cruise on through those first three major events with no issues.

NUMBERS DON’T LIE

We know that a cow’s reproductive efficiency is impacted by her health and welfare in the transition and fresh cow periods. We wanted to know to what extent. So, we did our research.

We dug into the herd health and reproduction records on 10,000 cows from three different dairies throughout the US. These herds operate at a very high level of management and keep accurately detailed records on all health events in their herds.

We sorted the cows from the three dairies into three different groups. We assigned each cow to a group based on the number of detrimental health event setbacks she had – zero, one, or more than one. By detrimental health events, we mean the ones that cost time, labor and money – including fresh cow events like milk fever, retained placenta, metritis, DA, ketosis, and also mastitis.

We then analyzed first service conception rate, overall conception rate and 21-day pregnancy risk per group. This chart illustrates what we found.

FEWER EVENTS EQUALS SUPERIOR REPRO

It’s easy to see the trend. Cows with zero health events, at and after freshening, have higher repro performance than cows with one and two or more health events.

It’s also important to note that more than 76% of these events happened in the first 30 days in milk. That emphasizes the importance that an animal’s health and welfare throughout her transition and fresh cow periods plays on her ability to become a profitable 4-EVENT COW. Cows that get the best start to their lactation, before and after calving are much more likely to be BRED on time and CONFIRMED PREGNANT after just one service.

The cows that had healthy, trouble-free transition and fresh cow periods went on to have 6% higher first service conception rates than cows with just one health event, and 10% higher first service conception rates than cows with two or more health events. That proves the obvious – that cows not experiencing detrimental health events, especially in the first 30 days of their lactation, are more likely to get bred back sooner.

What changes are you willing to make to get a 10%, jump in first service conception rate?

FOR THE SKEPTICS

You might be thinking that even a 41% first service conception rate and a 21-day pregnancy risk of 27% in the group of cows with multiple health events is still quite impressive. Those numbers come from the high management level at which all these herd operate.

t’s more important to recognize the difference in repro performance between the multi-event cows, and the healthy, trouble-free cows with zero events. A 10% conception rate difference and a 9% pregnancy risk difference is huge!

To take it one step further, we calculate the average annual 21-day preg risk across all three herds at 32%. That means the group of cows with multiple detrimental health events falls 5% short on repro performance as compared to just the average.

WHAT CAN YOU DO WITH THIS INFO?

Creating a pregnancy starts long before you inseminate the cow. If your repro performance is not hitting your goal, then work with a trusted advisor to analyze your herd’s transition and fresh cow health.

If you have too many cases of those fresh cow illnesses, they cost more than the time, labor and money you’re putting in to treat them. They’re impacting your herd’s overall reproductive efficiency.

Put a plan in place to address areas of opportunity in the transition and fresh cow pens to see benefits that extend to your reproductive success. When fresh cow health and welfare are front of mind, you’ll create more of those 4-event cows that 1-freshen with no troubles, 2-are bred just once, 3-are confirmed pregnant after just one service, and 4-go dry with no other health issues.

 

Article and analysis by Ben Voelz, Alta Premier Account Manager

*A version of this article was previously published in Progressive Dairy Magazine. Find it HERE.*

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How to make your next preg check your best one yet

There are so many factors that affect how efficiently you can get cows pregnant. Cow comfort. Cow cooling. Nutrition. Herd health. Genetics. Dry cow, transition and fresh cow management. And the list goes on.

The whole picture can be overwhelming. So to help break it down, we turn to the simple lactation cycle of an Alta 4-EVENT COW. You can make your next preg check the best one yet by focusing on the management practices around the BRED and PREG events of a cow’s lactation.

Here, we share three things you can do today to improve the current reproductive efficiency in your herd – and create more of those profitable Alta 4-EVENT COWS.

1. USE HIGH FERTILITY CONCEPT PLUS SIRES

With countless sire options available, it’s often hard to choose the right bulls for your herd. If part of your goal is to make your next preg check your best one yet, one of the fastest, simplest ways to do that in this moment, is to emphasize sire fertility within your customized genetic plan.

When you use a high fertility sire, you’re upping your odds of creating a pregnancy on the very inseminations where you use that sire. That means more cows that require just one time BRED before they’re confirmed PREGnant.

The trio of high fertility Alta CONCEPT PLUS semen options will improve the fertility in your herd, regardless of which semen type you use.

  • CONCEPT PLUS DxD – High fertility sires will give you a 2%-5% greater chance at creating a pregnancy with conventional semen.
  • 511 CONCEPT PLUS – High fertility SexedULTRA sires offer a 4%-9% conception rate advantage over the average sexed bull.
  • CONCEPT PLUS BxD – High fertility beef x dairy sires give you a 2%-5% greater chance at creating a conventional pregnancy with the beef semen you use in your dairy herd.

2. PRACTICE STRICT COMPLIANCE AND ACCURACY

Regardless of your repro strategy, your cows will not get pregnant if you don’t comply with the timed AI protocols and/or maintain an exceptional level of accuracy with heat detection.

When you use timed AI…

With synchronization programs, we can never emphasize enough that compliance is king. To put that in simple, relatable terms, that means combining four things:

  • The right injection
  • The right dose
  • The right cow
  • The right time

If you miss just one of these four critical factors, any chance at creating a pregnancy based off a synchronization schedule is severely diminished, or even gone.

When you heat detect…

The fastest diagnosis that you have on your farm for an open diagnosis is timely, accurate heat detection. What we mean by this, is that if you wait until your actual preg check day to determine the pregnancy status of every cow bred 28-35 days prior, you’ll be checking some cows that may already have showed heat since they were bred.

Regardless if you use an activity monitor system or tail painting, if you’re able to detect heats with accuracy, you’ll give yourself a chance to catch those cows that come into heat. That means fewer open cows on preg check day.

3. MAINTAIN ACCURATE RECORDS

Using a software program to maintain your records gives you the best chance of sticking to point number two above. When using a timed AI program, you can set up your synchronization schedule in your her management software program so you can follow it to a T.

When it comes to heat detection, having accurate data on freshenings, last service date, and more, will ensure you present the right cows on preg check day and keep your repro program on track.

Of course, other management factors will affect how many cows are confirmed pregnant on your next herd check. But if you do your own, personal check on the three points above, you may find that your next preg check is your best one yet.

 

Article by Glaucio Lopes & Chrissy Meyer

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Introducing the All-New Alta 511 CONCEPT PLUS

If you’ve used sexed semen on your dairy, you already know that sexed semen fertility is not the same as conventional semen fertility. It’s no secret that individual bulls may perform differently as conventional semen than they do as sexed semen.

Millions of pregnancy check records in the CONCEPT PLUS database confirm these differences in sire fertility between conventional and sexed semen.

Based on research from our product development team, you now have access to the all-new 511 CONCEPT PLUS ratings! This designation tells you which sires give you the best chance at creating pregnancies with Alta511 SexedULTRA sires.

On an individual bull page, look for the purple 511 CONCEPT PLUS logo to know which bulls offer the best chance at creating a female pregnancy.

CONCEPT PLUS sires still tell us which bulls provide the highest conception rates using conventional semen. The new development around sexed semen fertility just gives you a more precise way to know which bulls best fit your genetic plan and strategy.

We trust the data behind CONCEPT PLUS more than any other sire fertility evaluation because:

  • IT’S COMPLETE
    • CONCEPT PLUS accounts for the effect a technician or breeding code can play on a sire’s fertility within a given herd.
    • Data is collected from US and Canadian herds, and not limited to US herds on official test.
  • IT’S CURRENT
    • We collect current pregnancy check results through DairyComp from our partner herds and include only information from the past two years to designate CONCEPT PLUS sires.
  • IT’S CONSISTENT
    • Data is only gathered from progressive, large-herd environments, where management is consistent, contemporary group sizes are large, and repro programs are aggressive.

 

For more details on the all-new 511 CONCEPT PLUS sexed sire fertility evaluation, work with your trusted Alta advisor today.

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Create more pregnancies with precision fertility management

Big data is sweeping into agribusiness with precision agriculture. Now, with more information, growing crops and livestock has become more accurate and efficient, allowing you to do more for less.

We’re taking precision agriculture one step further. With precision fertility management, we are helping you turn data into dollars by creating more pregnancies.

Backed by the CONCEPT PLUS gold standard fertility designation, we’ve raised 20 years of fertility experience to a higher standard. We’ve compiled millions of pregnancy check data and delivered it through innovate tools to accurately and efficiently create pregnant cows.

What’s new with CONCEPT PLUS?

If you’ve used sexed semen on your dairy, you already know what millions of pregnancy check results confirm. Sexed semen fertility is not the same as conventional semen fertility.

The data also shows that the same bull may perform well with conventional semen fertility, but not as sexed semen, and vice versa. With that in mind, we now give you access to two separate fertility evaluations, so you can take a precision approach to fertility management.

Know which bulls will give you highest fertility using Alta511 SexedULTRA semen by finding this 511 CONCEPT PLUS designation on a bull’s individual page on Alta Bull Search.

The industry’s most accurate sire fertility evaluation, CONCEPT PLUS designates whether a bull offers elite fertility on conventional breedings.

Can a bull be CONCEPT PLUS and 511 CONCEPT PLUS?

Yes. Since we know that conventional semen fertility and sexed semen fertility are two different traits with low correlations, we now identify them as such. An orange CONCEPT PLUS icon or logo designates the bulls with the best fertility on conventional semen. The purple 511 CONCEPT PLUS logo shows you which sires offer the best fertility on breedings to Alta511 SexedULTRA.

Why would I want to use sexed semen with average or unknown fertility?

As with any decision you make, there are trade-offs. With Alta’s sexed semen options, it comes down to what you value most in a genetic plan: the most rapid genetic progress or known high fertility.

Let’s say the main goal in your genetic plan is to make the fastest genetic progress possible. In that case you may choose to use bulls that don’t yet have fertility data, or else are proven as average for sexed semen sire fertility. If these bulls best fit your goal of rapid genetic progress, they may not have the CONCEPT PLUS or 511 CONCEPT PLUS designations.

However, if your main focus is to create a pregnancy, the purple 511 CONCEPT PLUS designation will give you confidence you’re boosting your odds at creating pregnancy with sexed semen. The orange CONCEPT PLUS designation will continue to help you recognize which bulls create the most conventional semen pregnancies.

How often does Alta evaluate sire fertility?

We want to help you create more pregnancies. To do that, accurate fertility information is key. To be accurate, the data must be timely. We run a complete evaluate for sire fertility every other month.

We know differences exist in sire fertility, even over shorter periods of time, so to take advantage of the most accurate and current information, we now release new CONCEPT PLUS and 511 CONCEPT PLUS ratings six times per year.

Why should I trust the fertility of Alta 511 CONCEPT PLUS sires?

Alta 511 CONCEPT PLUS sexed sires will give you the confidence to create more heifers and more pregnancies. We provide the utmost care for our bulls, we follow strict lab SOPs, and ensure careful semen distribution procedures. And more importantly, we make firm culling decisions on bulls with sub-par fertility performance.

You can have confidence in the CONCEPT PLUS and 511 CONCEPT PLUS evaluations because:

  • CONCEPT PLUS is COMPLETE
    • It accounts for the effect a technician or breeding code can play on a sire’s fertility within a given herd.
    • Data is collected from US and Canadian herds, and not limited to US herds on official test.
  • CONCEPT PLUS is CURRENT
    • Our team is always collecting data DairyComp in our partner herds.
  • CONCEPT PLUS is CONSISTENT
    • Data is only gathered from progressive, large-herd environments, where management is consistent, contemporary group sizes are large, and repro programs are aggressive.

 

When you want to create more pregnancies, take a precision approach to maximizing your herd’s fertility by using the right tools for the job. Work with your trusted Alta advisor to define your dairy’s customized genetic plan and create pregnancies with a precision approach to fertility management.

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