A successful dairy reproductive program is built on many factors, with the end result being greater than the sum of all its parts. But nothing can impede success faster than when resources do not function collaboratively.
That’s why it’s so important to lay the proper foundation for reproductive success, beginning with choosing the right resources.
These resources are more than protocols and facilities. At their core, they begin with the right team of people—like your veterinarian, nutritionist, financial advisor, A.I. consultant and key employees—to help analyze the various technologies and feeding advancements that impact reproduction. With tight margins and little room for error, it’s more important than ever to determine the potential impact of every aspect of your management decisions.
“Veterinarians and nutritionists are critical resources for dairy producers,” explains Dr. Gene Boomer, field technical services manager with Arm & Hammer Animal Nutrition. “Their advice and insight work synergistically to keep cows healthy and productive throughout their lifecycle.” After all, reproductive performance starts long before the cow is confirmed pregnant.
Furthermore, uterine health—which is impacted by both health and nutrition—is one of the major factors that directly contributes to an animal’s ability to conceive and maintain a pregnancy.
Use these suggestions to help your key resources work together for the best results:
- No “I” in team. Stress the importance of consultant teamwork and focus on working toward the same goal. Don’t allow finger-pointing or placing blame when problems arise. Instead, concentrate on finding collaborative solutions. Nutritionists and veterinarians should be allies and work in tandem, rather than independently.
- Talk, talk, talk. Regular communication is essential—between team members and dairy management. Set and keep regular meetings that include all team members to keep everyone in the loop. Remember, cows are the ones that suffer the most when communications break down—and it’s not beneficial to your bottom line, either.
- Set goals and monitor performance. Determine herd performance objectives, using team member input and advice. Track whether or not cows hit the mark and make adjustments as needed. One good starting place is “Using Reproductive Records: Basics of Monitoring” by Dr. Mike Overton that was presented at the 2007 Western Dairy Management Conference. It is available at http://www.wdmc.org/2007/overton.pdf
- Expect the best. Dairy producers should have high expectations from their consultants in terms of performance and ability to work together. Their joint services provide the critical ground work for the best nutrition and health protocols available to the herd.
Finally, encourage experts to focus on their area of expertise and simply report the facts rather than tell one another what to do and how to do it, says Boomer. “Facilitating this relationship and focusing on what is best for the dairy helps keep the spotlight on healthy cows that are productive through all stages of life.”