Five dairies were named platinum winners for reproductive excellence at the Dairy Cattle Reproduction Council annual meeting last November.
The dairies are: Collins Dairy, of Greenleaf, Wis.; Dutchland Dairy, of Rolfe, Iowa; Kloppe Dairy Farm, of New Haven, Mo.; Schilling Farms LLC, of Darlington, Wis., and Sunburst Dairy, of Belleville, Wis.
Now in its fourth year, the reproduction awards program received 54 competitive nominations from 17 states and three countries.
Herd data for all nominees were analyzed by a panel of experts and an independent analytic program. The analyses evaluated raw data on every cow that calved on the dairy during the 2011 calendar year.
The winners share some of the things they are doing.
Tell us about your reproductive program.
Collins Dairy: It starts with a 75-day voluntary waiting period (VWP), with all cows set up to be bred between 72 and 79 days in milk and all cows checked to see if they are synchronized by our veterinarian when prebreeding prostaglandin is given. We use a basic two-dose prostaglandin presynchronization program with the two doses given 14 days apart and a 14-day period before the start of the Ovsynch protocol. We have one of our artificial insemination (AI) technicians tail chalk the breeding pens once daily. We have him hold off on breeding animals until after their first timed service. This method has been very effective as he can focus in on finding repeat breeders 21 days after a timed A.I. He has been able to maintain 44 percent conception while breeding 25 percent of the herd to standing heats. We use the Ovsynch protocol for timed A.I. for 75 percent of our breedings.
Dutchland Dairy: We follow a 60-day VWP. Heifers are bred at 13 months of age. We use a two-dose presynch protocol, then start Ovsynch 12 days later. We use tail chalk for heat detection and feel it has worked well for us. We use the Ovsynch program and preg-check cows between 30 to 36 days. Open cows are then started on an Ovsynch program for resynchronization.
Kloppe Dairy Farm: Our veterinarian does a post-calving check on cows and first-calf heifers 30 days postpartum. We begin breeding at 55 days in milk or anytime thereafter when the animal has a good standing heat. We begin breeding heifers at 14 months of age as long as the animals are healthy and in good condition. Any cows late in the VWP with a cyst are given GnRH seven days prior to a prostaglandin, hopefully detected in heat and bred. We breed exclusively on standing heats, using heat detection patches as a heat detection aid on cows. Cows are observed twice each day, for 15 minutes each time. One time daily, we compare the heat list to the stickers on the animals to make sure they are still in place and to observe any changes. Any cow that is not seen in heat before 60 days in milk is enrolled in a synchronization program that includes two doses of prostaglandin 14 days apart. Cows are then bred six to 10 hours after standing heat. If a cow does not come into heat, she is given a dose of GnRH 14 days after the second prostaglandin, followed by prostaglandin seven days later, GnRH two days after that and bred the next day. Cows are observed for heats three times per day. All cows are bred by A.I.