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Category Archives: Alta News

NAAB Doak Graduate Fellowship

The NAAB Doak Graduate Fellowship is a unique opportunity for individuals planning to pursue a career in the bovine genetic improvement industry to earn a Master of Science degree in bovine genetics or bovine male reproduction physiology.

This is intended for individuals who have long-term aspirations in the genetic improvement industry as exemplified by Dr. Gordon Doak, who dedicated 42 years to developing NAAB programs.

The fellowship is open to any candidate who has completed a 4-year degree and seeks an advanced degree at a major US university with an approved research project under the guidance of a mutually agreeable advisor.

*All information is provided by the National Association of Animal Breeders*

FELLOWSHIP DETAILS

Requirements

Student is expected to complete a Master of Science degree through an approved university with an approved mentor/advisor. Must have a B.S. in related field from an accredited university.

Duration

Two-year Master of Science program.

Award

Award would include research assistantship, tuition, fringe benefits plus lab and research supplies up to a total amount of $50,000 per year. This fellowship will be awarded to the institution, on behalf of the selected student. The National Association of Animal Breeders does not pay indirect costs on this fellowship.

Industry Experience

Award recipient will be considered a full-time student but would be expected to attend and participate in specific NAAB and industry related activities/ events.

Application Deadline

December 1, 2018 for Fall 2019 enrollment.

To apply

Submit transcripts and resume. Include two letters of reference and a cover letter addressing your qualifications, your interest in a career in bovine genetics or bovine male reproduction physiology, and why you are excited about the future of the dairy and/or beef industry and production agriculture.

Submit to

National Association of Animal Breeders (NAAB)
8413 Excelsior Drive, Suite 140, Madison, WI 53717
Contact: Jay Weiker at jweiker@naab-css.org

NAAB is the national trade association for artificial insemination businesses. NAAB members account for about 95% of dairy semen sold in the USA and market semen to more than 100 countries around the world.

National Association of Animal Breeders logo
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A2: genetic fad or future?

Since its 2015 US debut, A2 milk has been a hot topic among dairy producers. Now, the latest A2 buzz comes from consumers. This follows the launch of the A2 Milk Company’s national television advertising campaign, and increased local availability of A2 milk in many grocery stores.

While the curiosity around A2 milk grows, it’s important to evaluate whether this is just another fad in genetic selection, or a real future of the industry.

What is A2 milk?

A2 milk comes from cows with two copies of the A2 gene for beta casein.

Cows’ milk is about 87 percent water and 13 percent solids. Those solids include lactose, fat, protein, and minerals.

To find the A2 gene, we look to the protein in milk. Casein is what makes up the majority of milk protein, and about 30% of that casein is called beta casein. The two most common variants of the beta casein gene are A1 and A2, so any given bovine will be either A1A1, A1A2 or A2A2 for beta casein.

Milk from US cows has traditionally contained a combination of both A1 and A2 beta casein.

Isn’t A2 milk for people with lactose intolerance?

Not necessarily. A2 milk contains the same amount of lactose as non-A2 milk. So a person who has been clinically diagnosed with lactose intolerance will see no benefits from drinking A2 milk.

Some studies have shown the A2 beta casein in milk to be more easily digestible than the A1 beta casein. This means that the discomfort some people experience after drinking milk could actually be linked to an A1 aversion rather than to lactose intolerance.

Since the majority of lactose intolerance cases are self-diagnosed, for those people, A2 milk could be the answer.

How do you get cows that produce A2 milk?

The only way to have a herd that produces A2 milk is through genetic selection.

For a cow to produce true A2 milk, she must have two copies of the A2 gene in her DNA. Each animal receives one copy of the beta casein gene from its sire and one copy from its dam. So for a 100% chance at an A2A2 animal, you must breed an A2A2 bull to an A2A2 cow.

How do you know if your animals are A2?

The only way to know for sure, is a genomic test. Some companies offer A2 genetic testing as an add-on to a full genomic test. Others offer testing for A2 on its own, for as little as $15.

How long will it take to convert your herd to only A2?

This entirely depends on how aggressive your approach is. If your goal is to immediately become 100% A2A2, you can make that happen. To do that, you’d need to genomic test each of your animals, keep only those verified as A2A2, and sell the rest.

A less extreme option for large, multi-site dairies is to genomic test all females, and sort any animals verified as A2A2 all to one site.

But since those aren’t realistic options for most farms, another approach is to limit your sire selection to only bulls confirmed as A2A2. Most AI companies publish this information on their proof sheets and/or websites.

A rough approximation of active AI sires shows about 13% are A1A1, 46% are A1A2 and 41% are A2A2. If you figure that same proportion within your own herd, it would take seven generations of breeding your untested females strictly to A2A2 bulls before you’d reach 99% of A2A2 females.

Pie graph showing that about 41% of bulls in active AI are A2A2. 46% of bulls are A1A2 and 13% of bulls are A1A1.
More than 40% of active AI sires are A2A2.

What do you have to lose by selecting A2A2 sires?

With 40%, or more, of active AI sires verified as A2A2, you have a good number of sire options to use in your breeding program. This also means that less than half of the bulls out there are A2A2, so you will miss out on some sire choices by implementing this as part of your breeding program.

Every time you add a filter to your genetic selection criteria, you limit the amount of genetic progress you can make in your herd.

Should you select for A2 in your breeding program?

If you are offered milk premiums for producing A2 milk, or see that option in your future, then selection for A2A2 sires is a wise decision. However, chasing that bonus, if it isn’t guaranteed will mean you limit your genetic options.

No one can predict the future. So it’s hard to tell yet, whether A2 is just a fad, or the future of the industry.

Regardless of your selection decision around A2 sires, make sure it aligns with your dairy’s customized genetic plan. Emphasize the production, health and conformation traits that match your farm’s current situation and future goals. This will help maximize future profitability and genetic progress in the direction of your goals.

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Unlock your team’s potential through Dairy Manager School

You have the unique opportunity to learn from dairy industry experts, so you can improve your team’s performance and communication and unlock the potential in your employees!

You’ll get to ask the real questions that apply to your own farm when you enroll in the Alta Dairy Manager School on Team Performance and Communication. It will be held December 4-6, 2018 in Sioux Falls, South Dakota.

Dairy Manager School is a 2.5-day training that helps you, as a dairy farm owner or manager, gain tangible takeaways to improve one management area on your dairy for a measurable return on investment.

In this employee management-focused Dairy Manager School, you will get to

  • Learn the newest, research-based ideas
  • Ask the real questions that relate to your own farm’s current situation and future plans
  • Guide the discussion to learn what it takes to maximize profit potential on your dairy
  • Learn from world class experts

We limit the number of participants, so you can get the most from the class. We maintain this interactive setting to purposefully foster engagement with both the instructors and your classmates.

Image of the US Dairy Manager School flier on team management and communication

For more details on this Dairy Manager School, download the flier HERE.

Talk to your trusted Alta advisor or visit dairylearning.com to enroll today!

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Introducing the All-New Alta 511 CONCEPT PLUS

If you’ve used sexed semen on your dairy, you already know that sexed semen fertility is not the same as conventional semen fertility. It’s no secret that individual bulls may perform differently as conventional semen than they do as sexed semen.

Millions of pregnancy check records in the CONCEPT PLUS database confirm these differences in sire fertility between conventional and sexed semen.

Based on research from our product development team, you now have access to the all-new 511 CONCEPT PLUS ratings! This designation tells you which sires give you the best chance at creating pregnancies with Alta511 SexedULTRA sires.

On an individual bull page, look for the purple 511 CONCEPT PLUS logo to know which bulls offer the best chance at creating a female pregnancy.

CONCEPT PLUS sires still tell us which bulls provide the highest conception rates using conventional semen. The new development around sexed semen fertility just gives you a more precise way to know which bulls best fit your genetic plan and strategy.

We trust the data behind CONCEPT PLUS more than any other sire fertility evaluation because:

  • IT’S COMPLETE
    • CONCEPT PLUS accounts for the effect a technician or breeding code can play on a sire’s fertility within a given herd.
    • Data is collected from US and Canadian herds, and not limited to US herds on official test.
  • IT’S CURRENT
    • We collect current pregnancy check results through DairyComp from our partner herds and include only information from the past two years to designate CONCEPT PLUS sires.
  • IT’S CONSISTENT
    • Data is only gathered from progressive, large-herd environments, where management is consistent, contemporary group sizes are large, and repro programs are aggressive.

 

For more details on the all-new 511 CONCEPT PLUS sexed sire fertility evaluation, work with your trusted Alta advisor today.

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Koepon and CRI combine to form URUS

Madison, Wisconsin — Two strong organizations – one cooperative and one privately-owned company – have combined to form a new global leader in cattle artificial insemination genetics and farm management information.

Koepon Holding BV and Cooperative Resources International (CRI) announced their intent to merge last December. Now, following due diligence and votes by each organization’s board of directors as well as the member delegates of CRI, the business combination is complete. The newly formed organization is known as URUS.

“While URUS is a new name in the global agriculture industry, its roots run deep,” states Cees Hartmans, CEO. “The companies within the URUS family – AgSource, Alta Genetics, GENEX, Jetstream Genetics, PEAK/GENESIS, SCCL and VAS – have a history of serving dairy and beef producers across the world. Now, as part of this new organization, these companies are even better positioned to meet the future needs of members and clients.”

The formation of URUS, with its size and scale, makes possible a significant increase in investment towards products and services that will benefit producers across the globe.

“The companies of URUS will be leaders in new developments for the cattle industry,” states Hartmans. “Dairy and beef cattle producers are the heart of this organization, and so we want to ensure our members and clients have access to the best products and services at a competitive price. We want to be your partner of choice for cattle genetics, reproduction and farm management information for years to come.”

Hartmans adds, “Together, we can focus on producing high-quality and healthy food while contributing to a sustainable, productive and profitable global dairy and beef industry.”

 

About URUS
Formed in 2018, URUS (www.urus.org) is a holding company with cooperative and private ownership. URUS has strong roots in the global agriculture industry. This deep history is anchored by the companies that compose Urus: AgSource, Alta Genetics, GENEX, Jetstream Genetics, PEAK/GENESIS, SCCL and VAS. It’s also fueled by a worldwide team of professionals dedicated to providing dairy and beef producers with genetic and farm management information solutions that improve herd quality and productivity.

For more information contact Cees Hartmans, CEO at cees.hartmans@urus.org or Keith Heikes, COO at keith.heikes@urus.org

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Create more pregnancies with precision fertility management

Big data is sweeping into agribusiness with precision agriculture. Now, with more information, growing crops and livestock has become more accurate and efficient, allowing you to do more for less.

We’re taking precision agriculture one step further. With precision fertility management, we are helping you turn data into dollars by creating more pregnancies.

Backed by the CONCEPT PLUS gold standard fertility designation, we’ve raised 20 years of fertility experience to a higher standard. We’ve compiled millions of pregnancy check data and delivered it through innovate tools to accurately and efficiently create pregnant cows.

Bullseye icon to stand for precision fertility management

What’s new with CONCEPT PLUS?

If you’ve used sexed semen on your dairy, you already know what millions of pregnancy check results confirm. Sexed semen fertility is not the same as conventional semen fertility.

The data also shows that the same bull may perform well with conventional semen fertility, but not as sexed semen, and vice versa. With that in mind, we now give you access to two separate fertility evaluations, so you can take a precision approach to fertility management.

Full-size version of the new 511 CONCEPT PLUS logo

Know which bulls will give you highest fertility using Alta511 SexedULTRA semen by finding this 511 CONCEPT PLUS designation on a bull’s individual page on Alta Bull Search.

The industry’s most accurate sire fertility evaluation, CONCEPT PLUS designates whether a bull offers elite fertility on conventional breedings.

Can a bull be CONCEPT PLUS and 511 CONCEPT PLUS?

Yes. Since we know that conventional semen fertility and sexed semen fertility are two different traits with low correlations, we now identify them as such. An orange CONCEPT PLUS icon or logo designates the bulls with the best fertility on conventional semen. The purple 511 CONCEPT PLUS logo shows you which sires offer the best fertility on breedings to Alta511 SexedULTRA.

Why would I want to use sexed semen with average or unknown fertility?

As with any decision you make, there are trade-offs. With Alta’s sexed semen options, it comes down to what you value most in a genetic plan: the most rapid genetic progress or known high fertility.

Let’s say the main goal in your genetic plan is to make the fastest genetic progress possible. In that case you may choose to use bulls that don’t yet have fertility data, or else are proven as average for sexed semen sire fertility. If these bulls best fit your goal of rapid genetic progress, they may not have the CONCEPT PLUS or 511 CONCEPT PLUS designations.

However, if your main focus is to create a pregnancy, the purple 511 CONCEPT PLUS designation will give you confidence you’re boosting your odds at creating pregnancy with sexed semen. The orange CONCEPT PLUS designation will continue to help you recognize which bulls create the most conventional semen pregnancies.

How often does Alta evaluate sire fertility?

We want to help you create more pregnancies. To do that, accurate fertility information is key. To be accurate, the data must be timely. We run a complete evaluate for sire fertility every other month.

We know differences exist in sire fertility, even over shorter periods of time, so to take advantage of the most accurate and current information, we now release new CONCEPT PLUS and 511 CONCEPT PLUS ratings six times per year.

Why should I trust the fertility of Alta 511 CONCEPT PLUS sires?

Alta 511 CONCEPT PLUS sexed sires will give you the confidence to create more heifers and more pregnancies. We provide the utmost care for our bulls, we follow strict lab SOPs, and ensure careful semen distribution procedures. And more importantly, we make firm culling decisions on bulls with sub-par fertility performance.

You can have confidence in the CONCEPT PLUS and 511 CONCEPT PLUS evaluations because:

  • CONCEPT PLUS is COMPLETE
    • It accounts for the effect a technician or breeding code can play on a sire’s fertility within a given herd.
    • Data is collected from US and Canadian herds, and not limited to US herds on official test.
  • CONCEPT PLUS is CURRENT
    • Our team is always collecting data DairyComp in our partner herds.
  • CONCEPT PLUS is CONSISTENT
    • Data is only gathered from progressive, large-herd environments, where management is consistent, contemporary group sizes are large, and repro programs are aggressive.

 

When you want to create more pregnancies, take a precision approach to maximizing your herd’s fertility by using the right tools for the job. Work with your trusted Alta advisor to define your dairy’s customized genetic plan and create pregnancies with a precision approach to fertility management.

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Can you really trust dairy genomics?

You’ve had the option to include dairy genomics in your genetic toolbelt for nearly ten years now. By now, fear of the unknown mystery surrounding genomics has faded. The progressive dairy industry accepts this as a new era in rapid genetic progress.

Yet, we don’t blame you if you wonder whether genomic-proven bulls are your best option, when many daughter-proven sires still offer a great genetic package. With that in mind, we look for answers in the real proof data on bulls across the entire AI industry.

What did we learn about genomics?

In graphs 1 and 2, our geneticist, Ashley Mikshowsky, analyzed proof figures on nearly 6,000 industry Holstein bulls released between January 2010 and April 2015, that currently have a daughter proof.

Graph 1 shows TPI trends. The blue line on top charts the average GTPI by initial genomic release date. The orange line shows the average August 2018 daughter proven TPI for those same bulls. The space between the two lines represents the average TPI change from initial genomic release to daughter proof.

A graph to show the average trend comparing the genomic proof versus daughter proof of industry Holstein bulls

As you can see on the left side of the graph, the bulls first released in January 2010 changed 177 TPI points from their genomic debut to their August 2018 daughter proof.

When you compare that to the newest daughter-proven bulls, including those released as genomic sires in April 2015, you see only a 105-point TPI difference from their initial genomic proof to their August 2018 daughter proof.

This means the stability in GTPI from genomic release until daughter proofs has improved by more than 70 TPI points! As a bonus, it’s clear to see that the genetic levels of bulls continue to rise!

The same goes for Net Merit $. Check out those results in Graph 2.

Industry bulls first released as genomic-proven sires in January 2010 dropped, on average, 150 NM$ from their first release until their August 2018 daughter proof. Whereas, the bulls first released as genomic sires in April 2015 only changed 89 NM$ from their initial release.

A graph to show the average trend comparing the genomic proof versus daughter proof for the Net Merit $ value of industry Holstein bulls

Looking at these results, your argument might be that dairy genomics are still inflated. Yes, and while that is true, the gap between genomic and daughter proofs has clearly improved since the start of genomics.

Let’s dig deeper into genomic proof stability

To understand from another angle, we took a look at the facts and figures in a different light.

Graph 3 and Graph 4 are based on proof data that our geneticist, Ashley, evaluated from 1,073 industry bulls released in 2014. She uses this age group because those bulls released in 2014 now have a daughter proof for production, health and conformation traits.

Graph 3 shows that the bulls released in 2014 changed an average of -110 TPI points from their initial release in 2014 to their daughter proof in August 2018.

Nearly 120 of these bulls have a daughter-proven TPI within just twenty points of their original genomic TPI. Only about 30 bulls from the entire group of 1,073 lost more than 300 TPI points – that’s less than 3%.

A histogram showing the skewed bell-shaped curve distribution of the amount of change in TPI points an average bull had from his genomic proof to daughter proof

We see the same trend for NM$. Graph 4 shows the average NM$ change and standard deviation of the same 1,073 industry bulls. The average sire released in 2014 changed -89 NM$ from their initial genomic proof in 2014 to their daughter proof in August 2018.

More than 160 of the 1073 bulls held steady within the small 20-point swing from genomic to daughter-proven NM$. Just 12 bulls changed more than 300 NM$.

A histogram showing the skewed bell-shaped curve distribution of the amount of change in Net Merit $ an average bull had from his genomics proof to daughter proof

What are your genetic options today?

Still debating whether your best bet is to use daughter-proven or genomic-proven sire groups? Take a look at the top 10 daughter-proven TPI sires available from Alta today.

AUGUST 2018 Top daughter-proven sires

Sire CodeSire NameAug. 2018 TPI
11HO11478AltaLEAF2712
11HO11437AltaSPRING2663
11HO11531AltaSABRE2624
11HO11493AltaHOTROD2616
11HO11601AltaHIFASHN2588
11HO11523AltaHOTSHOT2576
11HO11499AltaMEGLO2572
11HO11508AltaCONSUL2547
11HO11440AltaCORNELL2528
11HO11537AltaJANGO2508
Average2594

AUGUST 2018 Top genomic-proven sires

Sire CodeSire NameAug. 2018 TPI
11HO12115AltaFORCE2826
11HO12165AltaBUGGY2820
11HO12122AltaSTARJACK2818
11HO12169AltaEMIRATES2813
11HO12161AltaAROLDIS2793
11HO12124AltaGOPRO2791
11HO11778AltaROBSON2789
11HO12188AltaCUCHILLO2785
11HO12287AltaEDIFY2784
11HO12270AltaMANOR2783
Average2800

Currently, our top daughter-proven sires average a solid 2594 TPI. Yet, the top, readily-available genomic-proven group offers a much more enticing 2800 TPI average. That’s a 206-point advantage over the daughter-proven choices!

It’s inevitable that some bulls will gain points and some bulls will lose points between their genomic proof and daughter proof – the data show us that. Yet we can also see genomic proofs continue to improve. Keep in mind that your odds are essentially zero that every single bull atop the genomic-proven list would drop to rank lower than the current list of daughter-proven sires.

With your genetic choices, keep these points mind:

  1. Genomic proofs are still slightly inflated. Yet, we see less change from genomic to daughter-proven TPI and NM$ over time because of model adjustments made along the way.
  2. Despite an average drop for TPI and NM$ from a bull’s genomic to daughter proof, you will make much faster genetic progress using a group of genomic-proven sires than a group of daughter-proven sires.
  3. Make sure the genetic progress you make is in the direction of your goals. Select a group of genomic-proven sires based on your farm’s customized genetic plan. Emphasize only on the production, health or conformation traits that matter most to you to boost your farm’s future progress and profitability.

 

 Proof analysis and graphs provided by Ashley Mikshowsky, PEAK Geneticist

For a PDF of this article please Click HERE.

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Create your perfect progressive dairy internship

Do you have a passion for the dairy industry? As an intern, do you want to learn from, work with and help progressive dairy producers? If so, we want to work with you!

Choose from one, or any combination, of the following focus areas to design your customized and rewarding internship – with your skills and career goals in mind.

Genetic Consulting

Travel within a multi-state region to large, progressive partner dairies or work with source herds for Alta’s product development and PEAK programs. Implement customized genetic plans, assist with sire procurement, provide performance reports using DairyComp, assist with Holstein Association SET evaluations and select and prepare daughters for professional photography.

Reproductive Management

Develop your understanding of advanced herd reproductive strategies with thorough hands-on experience. Assist with pregnancy diagnosis, artificial insemination, tail striping, heat detection and monitoring herd reproductive performance using DairyComp in herds averaging 2,000 cows.

Sales

Work with our current network of sales managers to build your own portfolio of accounts. Provide genetic, reproductive and calf management consulting advice, and develop customized solutions for current and prospect progressive dairy farms.

Marketing & Training

Enhance your skills in all areas of marketing, communications and training by promoting the Koepon companies globally through online, print and video communication pieces.

Calf Management

Work with the SCCL team on new research projects to advance the health and productivity of neonatal calves. Or use your sales and marketing skills to promote SCCL products through trade show involvement and producer and vet meetings.

Dairy Herd Management Software

Develop your understanding on current VAS products and software including DairyComp, FeedComp, ParlorComp, and more. Increase your knowledge, awareness and efficiency with dairy herd management software and practical application in every day, on-farm use.

 

As sister companies within Koepon Holding, we join forces with PEAK Genetics, SCCL and VAS to focus on supporting modern, progressive dairy farmers worldwide and providing them the knowledge they need to improve their dairy herd management practices now, and into the future.

 

APPLY TODAY FOR INTERNSHIPS WITH ALTA, VAS, SCCL AND PEAK.
Please apply online HERE by Monday, November 12.

Image of Emma Brenengen, 2017 Alta Reproductive Management Intern
“My internship with Alta Genetics is easily one of the best experiences I have had. Not only did I get the practice and repetition breeding cows, I was able to work with synch programs, use DairyComp, and analyze reproductive performance of different farms throughout the summer. I really was able to gain experience with all aspects of a successful reproductive program on a dairy farm and I feel like this internship has more than prepared me to begin a career in this industry!”

Emma Brenengen, Penn State University
Alta Reproductive Services Intern & Current Alta Technician Team Leader

Image of Matthew Lansing, 2018 Alta ADVANTAGE Intern in the US Mountain West Team
“This summer I got to experience the dairy industry in the Northwest US. I truly enjoyed getting to work with the amazing employees within Alta as well as the large progressive dairy farmers. Getting to experience large scale progressive dairy farming was definitely my favorite part of the summer, especially seeing how reproduction protocols function at such high levels. This summer I also learned that people buy products and services from people through positive relationships. This summer was an experience of a lifetime and I am grateful for the opportunity that Alta provided me. ”

Matthew Lansing, Iowa State University
Alta ADVANTAGE Intern

Image of Jennifer Callanan, Washington State University; Previous VAS Intern and Current VAS Software Support Specialist
“My internship with VAS provided me with the unique opportunity to be a part of a team whose main focus is to move dairies forward in efficiency and consistency. From hands-on involvement with the development of new technologies and tools, to insightful training with the existing programs, this internship offers a great view into the future of dairy and progressive thinking. I am excited to continue working for such a diverse company and support the success of the dairy industry.”

Jennifer Callanan, Washington State University
Previous VAS Intern and Current VAS Software Support Specialist

Image of Kati Kindschuh, 2018 Alta US Marketing & Communications Intern
“My internship with Alta Genetics reaffirmed my passion for pursuing a career within Marketing Communications in the dairy industry. Throughout the summer, I was treated like a full-time employee, engaged in several key projects and asked to help move the organization forward. I truly enjoyed the self-starting yet relaxed culture of Alta Genetics. Each day, walking onto a farm or into the office, I felt like I was being greeted by family. It truly was the best internship I could’ve asked for going into my last year of college.”

Kati Kindschuh, University of Wisconsin-River Falls
Alta Marketing & Communications Intern

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Alta staff honored for their AI industry service

Alta’s US honorees who were able to celebrate their AI industry tenure with a celebration in Watertown!

Front row (L to R): Scott Kooiman, Mel Blasing, Bill Beckman, Darren Peterson
Second row: Cindy Scherer, Donna Ludeman, Diane Haseleu, David Hill
Back row: Lori Loma, Terry DeBlare, Shelley Hazlett-Gooch, Paul Hunt, and the late Timothy Wendorf

Within the US, the National Association of Animal Breeders (NAAB) has recognized individuals for their AI industry tenure since 1965. Previously, honorees were recognized for their years of service after a quarter century and later after a half century. An updated award process this year means NAAB now offers recognition for 20 years, 30 years, 40 years and 50 years of AI industry service.

At Alta, we have a wonderful, committed team! To celebrate the NAAB recognition of these deserving staff, a celebratory lunch was held at the Watertown office on August 10.

The entire list of US Alta staff, who we celebrate for their tremendous, committed AI industry tenure include:

30 years

  • Bruce Arnold, Premier Account Team Leader (34 years)
  • Brian Stahl, Elite Account Manager in the Mountain West Team (34 years)
  • Fred Tidemann, District Sales Manager in the North Central Team (34 years)
  • Tim Benda, Elite Account Manager in the Northeast Team (31 years)
  • Cheri Miller, Export Coordinator (30 years)
  • Cindy Scherer, Lab Technician (30 years)

20 years

  • Roger Sosa, Sr. International Sales Manager, Beef (28 years)
  • Mike Menendez, Regional Sire Analyst (27 years)
  • Jim Powers, Elite Account Manager in the North Central Team (26 years)
  • Jon Stanley, Atlantic Team Leader (26 years)
  • Bob Welper, Director of Global Product Development (26 years)
  • Donna Ludeman, Watertown Lab Manager (26 years)
  • The late Timothy Wendorf, Watertown Herdsperson (26 years)
  • Bill Beckman, Production Supervisor (25 years)
  • Dave Schroepfer, Elite Account Manager in the North Central Team (24 years)
  • Tim Shoen, District Sales Manager in the Northeast Team (23 years)
  • Diane Haseleu, Watertown Administrative Assistant (23 years)
  • Lori Loma, Distribution and Shipping (23 years)
  • Mel Blasing, Distribution and Shipping (23 years)
  • Paul Hunt, COO (23 years)
  • Steve Yurgel, District Sales Manager in the Northeast Team (22 years)
  • Terry DeBlare, Export Coordinator (22 years)
  • David Hill, US Alta Advantage Specialist (21 years)
  • Scott Kooiman, Watertown Herdsperson (21 years)
  • Darren Peterson, Former team leader (20 years)
  • Shelley Hazlett-Gooch, AltaTWO Program Manager & Global Support (20 years)

Thank you and congratulations to our Alta team for their service!

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Haplotypes vs. genetic mutations

With August proofs, we saw a new and unique situation with two Alta sires: newly released sexed-only 11HO12240 AltaMILESTONE and G-STAR sire, 11HO11740 AltaFACET.

AltaMILESTONE’s initial genomic test told us he was free from the HH5 haplotype. However, the more extensive gene test for the causative mutation told us he is, in fact, an HH5-carrier. Similarly, AltaFACET was initially coded as free from the HH3 haplotype, but a later gene test revealed he is an HH3-carrier.

Traditionally, haplotypes are identified when animals have the same extended sequence of about 100 SNPs. Because we know there is more to this than the currently identified haplotypes, researchers are working to identify the exact causative mutations that cause early embryonic death1,2. This causative mutation is located in between two of the 100 SNPs used in the haplotype identification, but prior to finding the true causative mutation the exact location was unknown.

Over time, crossover events that occur in the DNA during sperm and egg creation can breakup and reassemble parts of an animal’s genome. That’s why we often see so much diversity in the progeny from a single mating pair.

These crossover events can also breakup that sequence of the 100 SNPs that we traditionally use to identify the haplotypes. If this happens, an animal could still have the causative mutation, but only have 40 of the 100 SNPs that would identify them as a haplotype carrier.

As researchers continue to identify the causative mutations for negative haplotypes, the specific gene tests will eventually replace the current haplotype tests used by the CDCB.

Although crossover events frequently happen in gamete formation, this process rarely occurs within the lethal haplotypes. In fact, these are the first instances of inconsistent haplotype results for Alta marketed sires.

For full disclosure, it’s important to remember that AltaMILESTONE (HH5) and AltaFACET (HH3) both have the causative mutation for their respective haplotypes and will therefore be labeled as carriers on Alta’s proof materials and website.

 

1Shutz et al. 2016. The Holstein Friesian Lethal Haplotype 5 (HH5) Results from a Complete Deletion of TBF1M and Cholesterol Deficiency (CDH) from an ERV-(LTR) Insertion into the Coding Region of APOB. PLoS ONE 11:e0154602.

2McClure et al. 2014. Bovine Exome Sequence Analysis and Targeted SNP Genotyping of Recessive Fertility Defects BH1, HH2, and HH3 Reveal a Putative Causative Mutation in SMC2 for HH3. PLoS One 9(3):e92769.

 

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What you need to know about August proofs

1. You’ve got a lot of high-ranking, brand-new sire options!

Never before have you had access to more new sires atop the Alta ADVANTAGE, G-STAR, daughter-proven, and Alta511 sexed sire lists! These sires are diverse in what they offer, and they are readily available!

2. You can now take a precision approach to herd fertility management

Starting this proof round, we give you options to most accurately and efficiently manage your herd’s fertility. (Read more about it HERE).

You can now select the right genetics for your herd based on your breeding strategy. We’ve released a sire fertility rating for conventional semen, and a separate sire fertility evaluation based on breedings with sexed semen.

These separate, and lowly correlated ratings will help you create more pregnancies by using the right sire fertility evaluation for your strategy and situation.

Full-size version of the new 511 CONCEPT PLUS logo

Know which bulls will give you highest fertility using Alta511 SexedULTRA semen by finding this 511 CONCEPT PLUS designation on a bull’s individual page on Alta Bull Search.

The industry’s most accurate sire fertility evaluation, CONCEPT PLUS designates whether a bull offers elite fertility on conventional breedings.

3. Some proof numbers were adjusted

  • NM$the index has new weights, and the average change across the industry meant a general increase of about 10 NM$. But many individual bulls changed more than that!
  • DPR – to account for the entire industry DPR drop that happened in April, the average DPR went up this proof round in the following amounts:
    • Holsteins: approximately +1.4 DPR increase
    • Jerseys: approximately +0.5 DPR increase
  • TPI – the average bull increased about 25 TPI points. However, several bulls atop our daughter-proven lineup increased 100 points or more!

4. The most efficient way to reach your genetic and reproductive goals is to set and follow your own, customized genetic plan.

Work with your trusted Alta advisor to set your strategy, and see how you can implement the exciting, new sire options and approach to precision fertility management in your herd.

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Newest Daughter-proven options to fit your genetic plan

Side-by-side professional photos of daughters by AltaLEAF and AltaSPRING

Is high reliability part of your genetic plan? If so, select from several sire options atop our daughter-proven lineup. These bulls are either new to the proven ranks, or have just added new daughter information.

011HO11478 AltaLEAF and 011HO11437 AltaSPRING are international producer favorites that remain atop our daughter-proven ranks. With the addition of hundreds of daughters each, both of these household names gained significant TPI points and Net Merit $!

These new bulls to the daughter-proven lineup offer a wide range of trait specialties to fit many different customized g­enetic plans.

11HO11531 AltaSABRE | JACEY X ROBUST X PLANET | 511 | 2624 TPI

  • Health trait outlier at 4.2 DPR and 7.7 PL
  • Tall, strong cows with high, wide rear udder attachments and ideal feet and legs
Grazing photo of Cottonwood Sabre 1535
Cottonwood Sabre 1535 | Cottonwood Dairy | South Wayne, WI

11HO11493 AltaHOTROD | JEROD X AltaIOTA X GOLDWYN | 511 | 2616 TPI

  • Great production, high type, and solid daughter fertility
  • Tall, long, stylish cows
  • Youthful, well-attached udders – protect for short teats
Professional side shot daughter photo of Parbro HOTROD Hannah, daughter of 11HO11493 AltaHOTROD
Parbro HOTROD Hannah | Owner: Parbro Farms | Uxbridge, ON

11HO11601 AltaHIFASHN | MAYFLOWER X MASSEY X OMAN | 2588 TPI

  • Great commercial cows with excellent rear udders
  • A balanced proof with sound production numbers, great health and fertility, and great functional type!

11HO11523 AltaHOTSHOT | PRIDE X CAMERON X MAN-O-MAN | 2576 TPI

  • Medium framed cows with strong fore udder attachments
  • By adding daughters, he improved 100 TPI points and 108 NM$
  • Outcross sire

11HO11499 AltaMEGLO | SUPERSIRE X FREDDIE X PLANET | 511 | 2572 TPI

  • Small to medium sized cows with open rib and strong udder attachments
  • Unique combination of excellent production (1962 Milk, 135 CFP) with exceptional 3.6 DPR
  • Outlier for conventional sire fertility

11HO11508 AltaCONSUL | AltaEMBASSY X ROBUST X PLANET | 2547 TPI

  • Wide rumps, high clearance udders and longer teat length
  • Great combination of high production and favorable health traits

11HO11537 AltaJANGO | TANGO X SHAMROCK X FREDDIE | 2508 TPI

  • Health and type trait specialist
  • DPR of 2.7 and SCS at 2.78
  • Favorable type traits at 2.13 UDC, 1.98 FLC
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August sire lists

No matter what genetic plan you’ve put in place on your farm, we have daughter-proven and genomic-proven bulls to meet your goals.

We have access to all you need in one place, in formats that are easy to print. Here you will find lists to download with any of Alta’s Holstein and Jersey specialty sires. Below, are the A2A2, polled, outcross, robot-suited and kappa casein sires. There is also a listing of our milking speed ratings, 100% registry status listings and top wellness trait sires.

Work with your trusted Alta advisor to customize your genetic plan using our Advanced Bull Search or Alta GPS.

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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.

During an AltaU session held this year, two participants learned first-hand how they can make changes that affect the bottom lines on their dairies. After watching the very first presentation on “health and nutrition of dairy calves and heifers” these 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 immediately adjusted the level of protein in their milk replacer.

What do these participants expect from these changes? Less incidence of scours at the first dairy, and increased 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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Olivia Burnetter, Reproductive Management Intern

Our Reproductive Management Intern, hailing from Burnt Hills, NY, is Olivia Burnetter. This New York native did not grow up in the dairy industry, but quickly took it upon herself to become immersed at dairies nearby. Currently, she is earning her final 12 credits at SUNY Cobleskill to finish her undergraduate degree in Animal Science.

Burnetter has separated herself from her peers by her ability to speak Spanish, a skill that she hopes to make even stronger throughout the summer. As a Reproductive Management intern, Burnetter will be working with synchronization programs and protocols, heat detection systems, and A.I. technicians on several farms in Arizona. Her internship involves working in conjunction with technicians, tech team leads and district sales managers within her area. Her Spanish speaking skills within this geographic area will serve as a valuable asset as she continues to learn about reproductive management with us in Arizona.

“I love that Alta is about service and creating value rather than just selling a product,” she says. But in June Dairy Month fashion, Burnetter says her favorite dairy product is any type of cheese! Added to any dish, cheese can serve as a delicious way to make an old recipe new.

Our interns create value, build trust and deliver results for the future of our company and we are excited to see where Olivia goes this summer. Welcome, Olivia Burnetter, our Reproductive Management Intern!

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Bilingual Dairy Manager School focuses on hoof care

The first Alta Dairy Manager School ever held in the US took place June 18-20, 2018 in Garden City, Kansas. The unique learning opportunity, presented simultaneously in English and Spanish, helped attendees dive deep into hoof care, health, and management.

Ten students from six different dairies attended the course, learning from the expert instructors at Sure Step Consulting. Participants spent their time learning through a mix of classroom based sessions and hands-on practice.

Classroom sessions focused on foot and leg anatomy, identifying lameness, proper hoof treatment protocols, foot bath management, and trimming procedures. On-farm sessions allowed the participants to practice what they learned in both functional and therapeutic trimming.

The 2.5-day course gave the participants the knowledge and applicable practice to take these skills back and apply them on their dairies.

Want to know more about Dairy Manager Schools? Check it out HERE.

An instructor shows two Dairy Manager School participants the functional and therapeutic procedures of hoof trimming during on-farm practice.
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Katie Kovalaske, Calf Specialist Intern

Our 2018 Calf Specialist Intern, is Katie Kovalaske of Waterloo, WI. Being raised on her family’s 80 cow dairy working with dairies upwards of 5,000 cows, Kovalaske has been able to find her niche in the industry. Currently, she is a senior at the University of Wisconsin-River Falls where she will graduate in December earning her undergraduate degree in Dairy Science with a minor in Animal Science.

Kovalaske says she wanted to intern with us because, “Alta offers a unique opportunity to strictly work with calves,” a passion of hers that can be found in just a few moments of conversation. Throughout the summer, she says it is her goal to help producers understand the long-term impact, and return on investment, that high quality calf programs can offer for milk production later in life.

Kovalaske will be helping to raise awareness for calf care protocols through our sister company, SCCL, and their CCT Colostrum products.

As a Wisconsin native, Kovalaske says her favorite dairy product is Mozzarella cheese, a key ingredient for any pizza party to be had throughout the year. Happy June Dairy Month Katie!

We welcome our Calf Specialist Intern, Katie Kovalaske!

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Kindschuh, Marketing Communications Intern

The 2018 US Marketing Communications Intern is Kati Kindschuh of Brownsville, WI. Growing up on her family’s 60 cow Registered Holstein farm, she found her passion for the dairy industry as a 4-H and FFA member exhibiting cattle at the county and state fair. She is currently a senior at the University of Wisconsin-River Falls where she will graduate in December with her bachelor’s degree in Agricultural Marketing Communications.

She says, “I chose to work with Alta Genetics because I want to help the most progressive dairies tell their story throughout the world.” Throughout her internship here at Alta, Kindschuh is focusing on strengthening the social media presence and increasing overall following on platforms such as Facebook, Instagram and Snapchat. Additionally, her focus is on the overall promotion of Alta Genetics and the extensive quality control process that we are proud of.

As a dairy industry enthusiast, Kindschuh says her favorite dairy product is butter! As a healthy source of fats, butter can be used to bake or add flavor to your meal.

We welcome Kati, our 2018 US Marketing Communications Intern!

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Alta ADVANTAGE Showcase Tour explores progressive Idaho dairies

The 19th edition of the Alta ADVANTAGE Showcase Tour took place June 5-8, 2018. It was the first time ever this global event was held in Idaho.

Guests toured some of Idaho’s most progressive dairy farms and learned from the forward-thinking owners and managers at the host farms. They also had the chance to share their own experiences with each other during on-farm management stations, bus rides between farms, and during evening socials.

To break it down, here is the Alta ADVANTAGE Showcase overview, by the numbers:

251Guests who experienced the most progressive dairy management tour in the industry
21Countries represented at this year’s tour
5Charter buses used to transport tour guests
5Gracious host dairies, who welcomed the Alta group
- Eagle Ridge Dairy | Kuna, Idaho
- TLK Dairy | Mountain Home, Idaho
- Oak Valley Dairy | Burley, Idaho
- Swager Farms | Buhl, Idaho
- Beranna Dairy | Caldwell, Idaho
1Pre-tour farm that welcomed international guests before the main tour kicked off - thank you to Swan Falls Dairy for the warm welcome!
30On-farm stations set up to help guests discuss the areas of calf care, employee management, genetics, reproduction, parlor management, cow comfort, dairy education, herd inventory planning, manure management, and more
34,275Total cows represented on the Alta ADVANTAGE Showcase host dairies
70-30-0Most popular genetic plan of our host dairies
11Number of sires represented in the Alta ADVANTAGE Performance Pens
34Number of daughters featured between the two Alta ADVANTAGE Performance Pens
3Pails of ice cream used in the global ice cream eating contest – Chile came out victorious over all other country competitors
502Miles traveled in Idaho for one tremendous tour!
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Alta welcomes 2018 summer interns

We are pleased to announce our Alta Genetics summer 2018 interns. With diverse talents and skill sets, the six US-based interns were selected from a pool of over 150 applicants.

The Alta interns will spend their summers working alongside the Alta team in the areas of reproductive management, calf care, genetic consulting, sales, marketing and communications.

These new team members kicked off their summer with Alta’s intense Orientation and Sales Process training in the Watertown, Wisconsin office. Throughout the rest of the summer, they will also be attending the Alta ADVANTAGE Showcase Tour in Idaho. In addition, they’ll work with a combination of Alta staff and dairy owners and managers in their region at some of the most progressive dairies in the US.

Meet the Interns

Picture here are (L to R), first row:

  • Olivia Burnetter | Reproductive Management Intern in Arizona | SUNY Cobleskill
  • Kaila Wussow | Alta ADVANTAGE Intern in the Upper Midwest | UW-River Falls
  • Katie Kovalaske | Calf Management Intern in the Upper Midwest | UW-River Falls
  • Kati Kindschuh | US Marketing & Communication Intern | UW-River Falls

Back row:

  • Matthew Lansing | Alta ADVANTAGE Intern in Washington and Oregon | Iowa State University
  • Jack Vander Dussen | Atlantic team Alta ADVANTAGE Intern | Cal Poly
Photo of the 6 Alta Genetics 2018 US Summer Interns
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Bull Search for Android & iOS

Android & iOS Bull Search app

The Alta Bull Search app delivers rankings for the sires that best fit your genetic plan. You can find individual proofs on Alta sires and all active industry Holstein bulls with a TPI of at least 1700. If you’re interested in a specific bull, type his bull code, full name, or short name into the search box. You can access more than 15,000 Holstein bulls without the constant need for an internet connection!

Benefits of the Bull Search App:

  • It’s available online and offline
  • Search Holstein sires by bull code, sire name or browse by preset breeding goals
  • See how index values adjust based on trait selection in search results
  • Easily find whether individual Alta bulls have high fertility CONCEPT PLUS status, or if they are FUTURE STARS, G-STARS or available as Alta511 SexedUltra based on logo designations.
  • Check out additional bull images if you’re online
  • Tap and hold feature for information pop-ups in breeding goal selection
  • Find updated information after each proof round

Download it today!

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Download the Latest Bull Search App
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Explore the new health traits

The Council on Dairy Cattle Breeding (CDCB) will release these six new direct health traits during April proofs. Click on each individual trait to learn more details about its benefits, reliability and heritability, directly from CDCB.

For a quick, one-page overview on all six health traits, please Click HERE.

The traits will be presented as disease resistance. A higher positive value is best – it means an animal is more resistant to the disease. A lower negative value will mean an animal is more susceptible, less resistant to the disease.

For example, let’s take a herd with an average mastitis incidence of 10%. If that herd uses a bull with a PTA of +3.0 for mastitis, we would expect the daughters of this bull to average 7% incidence rate for mastitis. That’s 3% less than the herd average.

Disease incidence rates range from 1.3% for milk fever to 10.2% for mastitis. Economic impact per case of each health event was also estimated, and ranged from $28 cost for ketosis to $197 for a displaced abomasum.

The heritability of these traits is still relatively low, but that doesn’t mean that you cannot make progress by selecting for these traits (read more about the high value of low heritability traits)

Mastitis resistance is also very favorably correlated with somatic cell score. Furthermore, the new health traits show no significant correlations to yield traits, meaning selection for fat or protein yield will not necessarily cause a decrease in health.

As the newly developed health traits are correlated to previously available traits, we have already been making progress in these traits, which you can learn about by reading the genetic guide to healthier cows. The data showed correlations up to 0.39 with productive life, correlations up to 0.47 with livability, and correlations up to 0.59 with DPR.

The data used to evaluate the health traits was collected from producer reported data in US herds, and underwent rigorous data testing to ensure accuracy.

With all this new information, it’s important to maintain focus on your customized genetic plan to make sure you keep making progress in the direction of your goals.

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