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Monthly Archives: July 2018

The NM$ index has new weights

The CDCB health traits will be added to the Lifetime Net Merit (NM$) formula starting in August. They will be combined into a health trait sub-index called HTH$, which will not be published separately.

You can find the relative value (%) for the traits in HTH$ in Table 1. DA, MAST, and METR represent over 80% of the index, due mainly to the higher costs and heritabilities associated with those traits.

Table 1. HTH$ sub-index relative values

TRAITABBREVRELATIVE VALUE in HTH$
MastitisMAST32.9
MetritisMETR26.5
Displaced abomasumDA23.3
Retained placentaRETP10.3
KetosisKETO4.7
Milk feverMFEV2.3

HTH$ Correlations

The correlations between HTH$ and the other traits in the NM$ formula are in Table 2. HTH$ is moderately to highly correlated with the health traits that were already included in the formula (PL, DPR, SCS, HCR, CCR, and LIV).  The heritability of HTH$ is low (0.01) as are many of the health traits.

Table 2. Genetic correlations between HTH$ and other NM$ traits

TraitMilkFatProtPLDPRSCSHCRCCRLIVCA$UdderF&LBWC
HTH$0.030.080.040.560.42−0.440.180.360.550.33−0.010.02−0.26

The new NM$ Index

A comparison of the 2017 and 2018 NM$ formulas is in Table 3 below.  The addition of HTH$ to NM$ results in slightly less weight on some of the traits already in the formula. In addition to new health traits in the index, NM$ now puts slightly more emphasis on the yield traits. SCS emphasis decreases because indirect correlated health costs are now allocated directly to HTH$.

The Fat to Protein ratio shifts to favor fat more, as the price paid for Fat is increasing and the price paid for Protein is decreasing (see Table 4 below).

Emphasis on SCS decreases since MAST is now directly included through the HTH$ index. PL emphasis also decreases slightly because later lactations are less valuable now that replacement heifer prices are lower.

Table 3. Net Merit $ Relative Values

Trait2017 NM$2018 NM$
Milk-0.7-0.7
Fat23.726.8
Protein18.316.9
PL13.412.1
SCS-6.5-4.0
DPR6.76.7
HCR1.41.4
CCR1.61.6
CA$4.84.8
LIV7.47.3
HTH$-2.3
UDC7.47.4
FLC2.72.7
BWC-5.9-5.3

NM$ 2017 versus NM$ 2018

An illustration to compare the index weights on production, health and conformation of Net Merit $ 2017 versus Net Merit $ 2018

Table 4. Component prices used to calculate Net Merit

YearFat ($/lb)Protein ($/lb)F:P ratio
20172.611.871.4
20162.312.101.1
20152.302.241.0
20142.383.390.7

Genetic Progress

Table 5 shows the expected genetic progress per trait for the 2017 and 2018 NM$ formulas.

The new 2018 formula will result in more progress for Fat, Protein, and FLC, and less progress for PL, DPR, CA$, and HCR.

The correlation between the 2017 and 2018 NM$ indexes are very high. For current industry genomic Holstein bulls the correlation is 0.998, and for current active, proven Holstein bulls, the correlation is 0.999.

Of the current top 100 NM$ genomic bulls, 88 remain in the top 100 NM$ using the 2018 formula.

Of the current top 100 NM$ active, proven bulls, 95 remain in the top 100 with the new formula.

Table 5. Expected genetic progress from NM$

Trait2017 NM$ (PTA change per year)2018 NM$ (PTA change per year)
Milk104104
Fat5.55.9
Protein3.73.8
PL0.540.51
SCS-0.02-0.02
DPR0.180.16
CA$3.53.4
HCR0.210.20
CCR0.420.42
LIV0.380.38
HTH$0.90.9
BWC-0.08-0.08
UDC0.050.05
FLC0.020.03

Customize your genetic plan

Ever-changing industry indexes serve as a reminder that your own farm’s customized genetic plan is as important as ever. When you set your emphasis on the production, health, and conformation traits that matter to your own bottom line – and stick to the plan you set – you’ll continue to maximize the progress you make in the direction of your own farm’s goals – even when other indexes change.

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ROI from AltaU

How often on your dairy do you find an instant return on an investment?

Return on Investment (ROI) is what you’ll get with AltaU.

In the AltaU session held July 16-20 in Denver, CO, two participants learned first-hand how they can make changes that affect their daires’ bottom lines. After watching the very first presentation on “health and nutrition of dairy calves and heifers” two participants left the room at the lunch break. They called home to instruct their teams to start applying what they had just learned from Dr. Robert Corbett.

One participant implemented new cleaning and sanitizing techniques for the bottles they use to feed colostrum. The other adjusted the level of protein in the milk replacer they feed.

What do these participants expect from these changes? Less incidence of scours at the first dairy, and increase average daily gains for improved development at the second farm.

One participant commented that they thought they knew everything about dairying, but after AltaU, they’re going back home with more questions on how to further improve their operation.

Looking for your own ROI?

Check out how the intense, 5-day AltaU, led by dairy industry expert instructors, can help you make profitable changes on your dairy. You’ll dig deep into the following areas of your dairy:

  • Labor management
  • Calf care
  • Replacement heifer development
  • Housing, lameness and cow comfort
  • Transition cow management and nutrition
  • Udder health and milk quality
  • Parlor management
  • Reproduction and AI
  • Dairy records analysis and decision making
  • Genetics, genomics, and genetic planning
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Kaila Wussow, Alta ADVANTAGE Intern

Our final intern to highlight for the summer of 2018 is Kaila Wussow of Cecil, WI, an Alta ADVANTAGE Intern in the North Central team.

Being raised on a 100 cow Holstein and Jersey farm in Northeast Wisconsin, Wussow found herself involved with calf care and show cow management on the farm. Throughout her youth, 4-H, FFA and the WI Jr. Jersey Breeders Association allowed her to make vital connections within the industry. These personal connections inspired her to make a career in the industry. A senior at the University of Wisconsin-River Falls, Wussow will graduate in December with her Bachelor’s of Science in Dairy Science and Agriculture Marketing Communications.

Throughout the summer with us, Wussow has been working alongside herds and dairy producers. Part of her role this summer includes on-farm video shoots to be used for herd employee trainings. This has allowed her to further understand best management practices on progressive dairies for various situations.

Wussow says, “I knew that Alta would challenge me to step outside my comfort zone and help me grow as an individual, which has been very true so far!”

As a dairy enthusiast through and through, Wussow says she loves to unwind from a long day at work with a bowl of ice cream! Welcome to our team, Kaila Wussow, our Alta ADVANTAGE Intern!

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Jack Vander Dussen, Alta ADVANTAGE Intern

Our 2018 Atlantic team Alta ADVANTAGE Intern is Jack Vander Dussen, from Hanford, CA. Born and raised in California on a 2600 cow dairy, Vander Dussen has worked on the dairy during summer vacations. This gave him a window of opportunity to explore all aspects of the dairy, leading him to find his passions within the industry. Currently, Vander Dussen is a senior at California Polytechnic State University-San Luis Obispo, majoring in Dairy Science with a minor in Crop Science.

Vander Dussen was able to get a peek at Alta culture when he attended the 2017 Alta ADVANTAGE Showcase tour in Michigan. This invitation-only event enables dairymen and women from across the globe to learn from the most progressive dairies on a variety of subjects while touring the farm facilities. Vander Dussen says, “The people and the culture I experienced at Showcase last summer… are focused on excellence through the practice of being progressive in business and culture.” The progressive mindset and culture of the people, led him to pursue a summer internship.

Throughout the summer months, Vander Dussen will be part of the Atlantic team, which is a much different ballgame than California. “I am excited at the opportunity to blend it with my knowledge of the California dairy industry,” says Vander Dussen as he begins his role this June.

Like a true dairy farmer, Vander Dussen says his favorite dairy product is milk—it’s simply nutritious and always refreshing! With nine essential nutrients, milk is nature’s most nearly perfect food to enjoy.

Welcome, Jack Vander Dussen, our Atlantic team Alta ADVANTAGE Intern!

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Matthew Lansing, Alta ADVANTAGE Intern

Our Alta ADVANTAGE Intern working with progressive dairies on the West Coast is Matthew Lansing. Hailing from Hopkinton, Iowa, Lansing was raised on a 160-cow dairy where he found himself involved in the local 4-H Club and FFA Chapter, showing cattle. A senior at Iowa State University, Lansing will graduate in May of 2019 earning his undergraduate degree in Animal Science.

“I chose Alta because of the endless opportunities they provide you and the knowledge they supply you with in the field.”

A new opportunity Alta has given him, is working this summer on the West Coast. While in Washington and Oregon, Lansing is out in the field, doing matings, breeding, and helping farmers analyze their reproductive programs through DairyComp..

As an athlete and dairy enthusiast, Lansing says his favorite dairy product is chocolate milk. Known for its added benefits of protein, potassium and calcium, chocolate milk is an excellent (and tasty) way to recover after any physical activity.

Welcome, Matthew Lansing, our Alta ADVANTAGE Intern!

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