Even a little reproductive performance improvement pays off

Hoard's Dairyman: 

Even a little reproductive performance improvement pays off

Date: 
Mon, 11/12/2012

Financial gains are biggest for high-producing herds.

by Dennis Halladay, Hoard’s Dairyman Western Editor

The higher your herd’s production average is, the more additional money you stand to make by making even small improvements in reproduction — more cows caught in heat sooner, more and earlier pregnancies, and shorter calving intervals.

Greg Bethard This message came from Greg Bethard (pictured), a dairy consultant and the assistant director for dairy technology at Dairy Records Management Systems at North Carolina State University, during the 7th annual Dairy Cattle Reproduction Council annual meeting in Sacramento, Calif., November 8 and 9.

His high-velocity talk emphasized that no matter where a herd is currently in terms of milk production or reproduction — poor, average, very good or great — even moving up one rung on the performance ladder generates substantial additional income. Factors he cited in this include fewer cows over 300 days in milk, shorter calving intervals, more cows available for culling and lower overall replacement cost per head.

“The income-over-feed-cost (IOFC) benefit of improving herd reproduction has more financial impact on older cows than on heifers and on higher-producing herds than on lower herds,” said Bethard. “But great reproduction results in lower feed costs per hundredweight in all herds. And in my experience, better reproduction has a bigger impact on the milk:feed ratio than the [data analysis] results imply, suggesting that something more than biology and demographics is involved.”

Based upon his analysis of over 200,000 cow records in his consulting database, he estimates that making the leap from being a poor reproduction herd to a great one would improve IOFC by $515 per cow per year in a high-producing herd and by $387 per cow per year in a low-producing herd.

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John Lee, D.V.M.Want to make an extra $60 per heifer? In this webinar, John Lee, D.V.M., Pfizer Animal Health, leads an interactive discussion on getting more out of your heifer investment. With high input costs there is less room for error when breeding replacement heifers. Lee shares his thoughts on the best metrics to use when evaluating a heifer reproduction program. While common measurements are conception rate and percentage of heifers pregnant within three services, he will tell you about measurements that give you a better idea of what’s really going on with your heifer reproduction program. Learn about efficiencies in heifer reproduction from a Hoard’s Dairyman webinar, “Shrinking the freshening window for replacement heifers,” live on Monday, November 19, 2012, at noon (Central time).

This is a special reproduction webinar, so those wishing to participate, must register at Go To Meeting. Registration in the monthly Hoard’s Dairyman webinars will not automatically carry over to this special webinar.

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