Dairy producers in Michigan who use Dairy Herd Information (DHI) services have a new tool available to monitor dairy herd performance. DHI-402 Herd Evaluator report, developed by Dairy Records Management Services (DRMS), focuses on key indicators of a herd’s future profitability.
The Herd Evaluator report highlights trends for five categories of management information: milk yield, milk quality, turnover/death loss, reproduction, and herd inventory. Data are summarized in two formats – tables and graphs. For each category, 12-month trends for several key indicators are graphed. The data tables for each category include additional parameters related to the key indicators.
- Milk Yield – Monitoring milk production allows producers to determine if performance goals are being met. Test-day averages for milk yield, fat percent, and protein percent are graphed to show trends in daily production during the past year. Yearly change in related parameters including peak milk production, 150-day milk, and days in milk also are reported.
- Milk Quality – Somatic cell counts reflect milk quality and udder health of the herd. A graph of test-day herd somatic cell count illustrates the trends in milk quality and udder health. Infection rates for the current test date can be compared to udder health in the herd 12 months ago. The incidences of new, chronic, and fresh cow infections are listed.
- Turnover/Death Loss – Dairy producers strive to control herd turnover rate and death loss to avoid purchasing replacement heifers. This section shows trends in the percent of cows that left the herd during the last 12 months (all reasons and death only). Early lactation culling and overall culling by lactation number also are summarized.
- Reproduction – Maintaining sufficient pregnancies throughout the year is an important goal for dairy herds. Average pregnancy and conception rates are graphed for each test date during the last year. The data table in this section provides information about several other reproduction management parameters (e.g. heat detection rate, days to first service, calving interval, age at first breeding for heifers). Heifer information will be available in this section if heifer breedings and pregnancies are reported.
- Herd Inventory – This graph in this section shows trends in herd inventory for heifers and cows. The number of heifers in the herd indicates whether an adequate number of replacement animals will be available in the future. The number of milking cows, dry cows, cows to calve, and heifers to calve are projected for the next 6 months.
Routine monitoring of herd performance trends is critical. Ask your DHI Technician for details about how to obtain the DHI-402 Herd Evaluator report so you can evaluate key areas of performance in your herd.
Source: Kathy Lee, Michigan State University Extension