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Barn Meetings Archives

2011 Spring Barn Meetings

The Wisconsin Holstein Association held a series of successful barn meetings at four farms during the last part of March and first of April 2011. The topic of discussion at each barn meeting was reproduction and the tools available to producers to help with conception and reproductive efficiency.

The first two barn meetings were hosted by Paradise-D Holsteins, the Dan and Nancy Pagenkopf family of Lancaster on Thursday, March 24, and Forest-Ridge Holsteins, Kurt and Sarah Loehr, Eden, on Monday, March 28. A large group of visitors attended each meeting and were treated to a tour of the facilities, a great herd of cows and a delicious lunch.

Dr. Chris Booth spoke at both meetings and gave a presentation on improving reproductive efficiency. He started the talk by saying everyone’s situation is different with different goals for their reproductive program and how success is measured, whether by conception rate, pregnancy rate or percent pregnant at vet check. There are several factors that contribute to cow fertility and management for nutrition, disease, milk production is very important along with environment and a cow’s genetics.

Dr. Booth shared results from past studies that show about one in four cows are not cycling at 65-75 days in milk. There are several synching programs that have been developed to help get cows cycling. He pointed out that with any program there are three steps to setting up a successful synching program: 1. How and when are cows submitted for first AI and what is the voluntary waiting period. 2. How and when are open cows to the first AI identified and submitted for second AI (heat detection, pregnancy check, etc.). 3. Repeat set two until pregnant or you stop trying.

Dr. Booth went through several synching programs and the protocols for each. He stressed that with any program, the timeliness of the shots is key to maximize fertility. Some of the benefits for presynchronizing cows for first service include getting more high producing cows ready for first service, a 10-15% increase in conception rate with presynch versus no set-up (natural heat or just starting Ovsynch protocol), and a 5% increase in conception rate using a 14-11 Presynch vs. 14-14 Presynch protocol. Dr. Booth also pointed out several reasons why Ovsynch doesn’t “work” for some herds, including that people only use Ovsynch on problem cows, starting cows during the wrong stage of their cycle and lack of compliance when giving shots. If producers are having reproductive problems, they are also encouraged to review their AI techniques and to work with their veterinarian, nutritionist and other advisors as a team.

Ralph and Sharon Bredl of Harmony-Ho Dairy, Stratford, hosted a meeting on Wednesday, March 30, and attendees were treated to a tour of their facilities as well as a tasting of several variety of cheeses produced by Harmony Speciality Dairy Foods. Steve Dewall, Genex Dairy Specialist, was also on hand to point out some of Harmony-Ho’s Genex Genesis cows.

The Ralph and Sheila Petersheim family hosted the final meeting on Friday, April 1, at Welsh-Edge Holsteins near Viroqua. Visitors were able to see a great herd of homebred cows, highlighted by the Ginger family including Durham Gingerheart and her Excellent and Very Good daughters.

Dr. Matt Dorshorst was the speaker at both Harmony-Ho Dairy and Welsh-Edge Holsteins. He encouraged breeders to monitor the nutrition of their herd and work with their nutritionists to keep cows on the right track as fifty-percent of dairy cows experience one health crisis during the transition period, which can cause conception rates to be less than 35 percent. He also pointed out that the general management of your herd affects your reproductive success.

Dr. Dorshorst shared that studies show 70 percent of heats occur from 7 p.m. to 7 a.m., which is why synching protocols have been developed. He also stressed that with any program, all shots and the timing of the shots is critically important for the success of the program. Also, pre-screening and ultrasounding cows will help to identify cows that are good candidates for a synching program. Dr. Dorshorst briefly discussed technologies used for pregnancy diagnosis and stated that ultrasound offers the most advantages
regarding determination of fetal viability, twining and fetal sexing. He also urged everyone to consult with their veterinarian about reproduction protocols as there are a lot of options and your vet will know best what will work in your situation while considering your goals and limitations.

The Wisconsin Holstein Association would like to extend a huge thank you to each of the barn meeting hosts and our speakers for putting on a fantastic group of meetings. If anyone is interested in hosting a future meeting or would like to suggest a topic of discussion, please contact the WHA office.