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Category Archives: Alta News

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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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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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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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!

google-play-badge
Download the Latest Bull Search App
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April 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 top DWP$ and WT$ sires, milking speed ratings, and registry status listings.

If you’re looking for a customized approach to the right beef bulls to use in your dairy herd, learn more about the Alta Beef ADVANTAGE.

  • HIGH FERTILITY
  • CALVING EASE
  • GROWTH PERFORMANCE
  • CARCASS QUALITY

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

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Top 5 takeaways from Alta’s April proofs

1. MOST INDUSTRY BULLS DROPPED FOR PL, DPR & INDEX VALUES

  • CDCB updated the way they calculate Productive Life, which impacted industry bulls more than expected – and for more than just PL.
  • This is not a base change. The variable rollback adjusts for previous inflations, and that means an average TPI and NM$ drop for most bulls this proof round. Top-ranking bulls saw more extreme drops, but on average, according to CDCB, this calculation adjustment equated to the following:
    • Currently marketed industry HO genomic bulls: ↓ 1.5 PL  |  ↓ 1.4 DPR  |  ↓ 37$NM
    • Currently marketed industry HO daughter-proven sires: ↓ 0.8 PL  |  ↓ 1.0 DPR  |  ↓ 18 $NM
    • Currently marketed industry JE genomic bulls: ↓ 2.0 PL   | ↓ 0.8 DPR  |  ↓ 56 JPI
    • Currently marketed industry JE daughter-proven sires: ↓ 1.0 PL  |  ↓ 0.7 DPR  |  ↓ 26 $NM

What this means for you:
To account for previous inflation, be prepared to see lower PL, DPR, TPI, NM$ and customized index values for most bulls. The industry-wide decrease means you’ll want to readjust your mindset on the acceptable values for these indexes and traits.

 

2. NON-PUREBRED JERSEYS (WITH JX IN THEIR NAME) LIKELY DROPPED FOR JPI

  • CDCB extended their all-breed model to include genomic evaluations. This means that any Jerseys that have other breeds in their pedigree – denoted by the JX in their name – will be affected.
  • In addition to the average changes listed above, the non-purebred JX sires likely saw a greater change in JPI.
  • Holsteins and purebred Jerseys did not see a noticeable effect from this all-breed model change.

 

3. CDCB RELEASED SIX NEW HEALTH TRAITS

  • These traits, shown as resistance to each disease, are: Milk Fever, Displaced Abomasum, Ketosis, Mastitis, Metritis, and Retained Placenta
  • These new health traits are not currently included in any industry or Alta preset indexes. They can be found on Alta Bull Search in the Health Traits section of individual bull pages and within the Excel file export.

 

4. GREAT ALTA SIRE OPTIONS ARE AVAILABLE – REGARDLESS OF GENETIC PLANS!

  • If you’re a loyal Alta ADVANTAGE partner, there are 21 impressive new bulls available exclusively through this program.
  • The elite genomic G-STAR list added 40 new Holstein and Jersey sires!
  • 25 bulls with CONCEPT PLUS status gained low calving ease proof to earn FUTURE STAR status
  • To continue the trend of FUTURE STAR success, the top new sires on the daughter-proven list are all FUTURE STAR graduates!

 

5. THE MOST IMPORTANT THING TO REMEMBER IS THAT YOUR CUSTOMIZED GENETIC PLAN IS KING. WORK WITH YOUR TRUSTED ALTA ADVISOR TO SET AND IMPLEMENT YOUR OWN CUSTOMIZED GENETIC PLAN THAT MAXIMIZES GENETIC PROGRESS TOWARD YOUR FARM’S GOALS.

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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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Reproductive and DairyComp training available at DairyLearning.com

Dairylearning.com — a brand-new online training hub for dairy owners, managers, workers, students and consultants who value progressive thinking — is now live and scheduling new training sessions.

As the first of its kind in the industry, the new web-based training platform offers a variety of tools to develop knowledge and skills on relevant dairy herd management topics. Online courses can be completed at any time, from any location, and live trainings provide learning from dairy industry experts in a small classroom setting.

All online courses and live trainings come directly from leading minds in the dairy industry. These instructors have researched and implemented the skills they teach, and experienced the impact of these lessons on thousands of cows globally.

Among the first online trainings available is an in-depth and interactive reproductive anatomy and physiology course to offer a better understanding of the reproductive tract, hormones, and the estrous cycle.

Also available are brand new DairyComp training modules created by VAS exclusively for dairylearning.com. These courses cover DairyComp navigation, CowCards, commands, settings, and dairy economic and business planning. Users can take the courses individually or purchase as part of basic or intermediate packages.

The future of dairylearning.com includes advanced DairyComp training, and more online courses directly from dairy industry experts on leadership, management and calf care.

Visit dairylearning.com today for more information, and to explore online courses and register for live trainings.

 

Questions? Please contact:
Sadie Gunnink
info@dairylearning.com

screenshot of the dairylearning.com website
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The high value of low heritability

Most of us misunderstand heritability. In simple terms, for any given trait, heritability tells us how much of the difference in actual performance is due to genetics, as opposed to management or the environment.

To better understand, think about two cows in two different herds. How much of the difference in their milk production is due to genetics? How much is due to management or environment? It turns out about 30% of the milk production difference is due to genetics, while 70% is due to management and environment. Therefore, milk has a heritability of 0.30.

What about pregnancy rates? Management and environment account for the 96% majority of variation between daughters. So the influence of genetics is minor, at just 4%. Thus, Daughter Pregnancy Rate (DPR) has a heritability of 0.04.

We commonly refer to the health traits like Productive Life (PL), DPR and Somatic Cell Score (SCS) as the lower heritability traits. Many producers believe that low heritability equates to less, or slower, genetic progress. However, in spite of lower heritability, it would be wrong to conclude that DPR, PL or SCS are insignificant as a result.

Perspective is important

In genetics, accuracy shows through when we evaluate results within one herd. In that herd, if we evaluate within a specific lactation group, and then within a specific time of freshening, we find a contemporary group. By evaluating within one contemporary group, we reduce the impact of management and environmental differences.

The overall heritability for health traits like DPR and PL is low. When we break our evaluations down into contemporary groups, that’s when we find the true genetic differences.

The proof is in the numbers

Take this real-life example from a 1,500-cow dairy with very good reproductive performance. We’ve separated out first lactation cows into four groups, based on their sire’s DPR. It’s clear to see that the high DPR sires create daughters that become pregnant more quickly than the daughters of low DPR sires.

Table 1# of cowsAverage Sire DPRActual preg rate
Top 25% - High DPR1742.327%
Bottom 25% - Low DPR137-1.120%
difference3.47%

The same goes for Productive Life. Despite the low heritability at less than 9%, PL can make a real, noticeable difference in your herd.

This table compares how long the daughters of the industry’s best ten PL bulls and daughters of the industry’s bottom ten PL sires will last in a given herd. You can see that a higher percentage of high PL daughters, represented by the dark blue bars, remain in a herd than their low PL counterparts.

Graph showing the real effect that Productive Life plays on how long cows last in a herd

When you select for the lowly heritable PL, you will certainly create healthier, longer-living cows in your herd.

Focus on the economics

As a progressive dairy producer, don’t let confusion about heritability prevent you from using the right genetic tools to improve your herd. Health traits are economically important, and making improvement in these areas can have a huge impact on your bottom line.

Many traits have a high heritability, but no economic importance. In other words, we can make a lot of progress for these traits very quickly, but it will not make a more profitable cow.

A couple examples of high heritability traits are coat color and polled. Both of these traits have a heritability of 100 percent because they are completely controlled by genetics. However, even if we can make cows red or polled in one generation, what is the economic value of that?

By comparison, the economic value of more fertile cows that last longer because of fewer metabolic problems, fewer cases of mastitis, and less calving difficulty is clear to see. These genetic features make a more profitable production unit for each and every farm.

Selection secrets for healthier cows

When you set or reevaluate your genetic plan, take the following tips into account to maximize progress in the direction of your goals.

1. Define your goals

To set the right goals, first identify the most common reasons for culling in your herd. Is it reproduction, milk production, mastitis? This information gives you the basis for the genetic decisions you make going forward.

2. Choose your tools

Health traits offer dairy producers some powerful tools to help correct for low reproduction, metabolic problems, etc. Identify how important each of these trouble areas are to you. Place a proportionate emphasis on these traits when choosing the group of sires to use on your dairy.

3. Customize the solution

Industry standard selection indexes put different and continually changing weights on health traits. So don’t assume they reflect your individual goals and needs. Work with your trusted Alta advisor to make sure your genetic plan is customized to match your current situation and future goals.

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Alta announces new Northeast Sales Team Leader

We are pleased to announce Duncan Bailey as the new Northeast Sales Team leader for Alta Genetics USA.

 

Duncan has been a valuable asset to the Alta team, and to his clients throughout western New York, since he began in his role as District Sales Manager in June of 2016. In addition to his dedication and committed work ethic, he has a true passion for genetics, which comes from years of raising show cattle.

 

As Duncan expands his role, he shares, “I am most excited about working throughout the entire Northeast, developing new relationships with current and future Alta clients. I also look forward to gaining experience in the different management styles throughout the US!”

 

Duncan resides in Western New York on his family’s crop farm, where he enjoys hunting and working with his cattle.

Photo of Duncan Bailey, the new Northeast Team Leader for Alta Genetics US
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New repro research presented at DCRC

More than 250 progressive dairy producers, academia, and industry personnel gathered in Reno, Nevada November 8-10, 2017 for the Dairy Cattle Reproduction Council (DCRC) annual meeting. While there, guests discussed new and advanced practices to achieve outstanding reproductive performance.

During the annual meeting, the DCRC invites speakers from around North America to present cutting-edge research and discuss hot-topics impacting today’s dairy reproductive performance. Topics covered this year included hormone use in dairy cattle, the importance of cow health on fertility, effects of heat stress during late gestation, heifer rearing, use of in vitro embryos and genomics, decision-making with sexed semen, and many more. Here is a quick summary of some of the talks:

Transition cow health and fertility

Dr. Eduardo Ribeiro with the University of Guelph, presented the “Impact of Transition Cow Health on Fertility.” Dr. Ribeiro showed data highlighting early pregnancy loss as a major factor impairing reproductive efficiency of dairy cattle.

In addition to early pregnancy loss, Dr. Ribeiro also demonstrated how diseases such as metritis, mastitis, lameness, and digestive and respiratory problems during the early postpartum period decreased the likelihood of cows to become pregnant after artificial insemination (AI), and increased the risk of pregnancy loss after 45 days of gestation.

Recent research of Dr. Ribeiro’s laboratory in Canada has demonstrated that the timing of disease has a negative effect on fertility of dairy cows. Disease that occurs before the end of the voluntary waiting period (VWP) has a similar, negative effect as disease that happens during the time of breeding and early pregnancy.

These findings confirm that disease has a negative carryover effect on fertility, with consequences still observed three months after the disease had subsided. Dr. Ribeiro concluded that prevention of postpartum disease is the best approach to reduce these negative effects on fertility. However, complete prevention is nearly impossible.

Future research is required to investigate the effects of minimizing inflammation of clinical diseases and how that could potentially mitigate some of the negative effects on reproduction.

Voluntary waiting period and first service repro strategies

Dr. Julio Giordano, from Cornell University, presented another great talk on the “Impact of the VWP, first-service management strategies, and how these decisions can alter profitability.” Research has demonstrated that extending the VWP from 50 or 60 to 88 days in milk (DIM) may increase conception rates at first service.

When extending the VWP, the greatest increase in conception rate is observed in first lactation cows. Dr. Giordano suggested that extending the VWP may lead to greater profitability in those first lactation cows but not in cows in their second and greater lactation.

Several factors influence profitability when changing the VWP, but the two major factors are:

  • differences in replacement costs
  • income over feed costs

Furthermore, when extending the VWP from 60 to 88 DIM the increase in first-service conception rate must be 10 to 11 percentage points greater for first lactation cows and 7 to 12 percentage points greater for multiparous cows to generate the same number of pregnancies by 90 DIM.

Dr. Giordano concluded that the duration of the VWP and how that affects herd performance and profitability depends upon complex interactions between reproductive performance, culling dynamics, lactation performance, and the economic market.

Recognizing reproductive excellence

Every year DCRC recognizes dairy farms that exude excellence in reproductive efficiency, fertility, and reproductive management. Dr. Glaucio Lopes from Alta Genetics, examined the records of the 2017 DCRC award winners to show similarities and differences among the 24 award recipients in his presentation “Digging Deep into Records of DCRC Award Winners.

Pregnancy rate is one of the most common metrics to evaluate the success of reproductive programs. So it should be no surprise that the average pregnancy rate of winning herds has steadily increased throughout the years of the award program. In fact, all award winners from 2017’s contest had over 30% pregnancy rate throughout 2016. However, Dr. Lopes was emphatic on highlighting that pregnancy rate is not the only metric used by the awards committee to select the winners.

Though reproductive management strategies differed among award winners, most farms used some form of fixed timed-AI program as part of their management system, in combination with estrus detection and AI. Despite practices that were common in the beginning of this decade, no farms used 100% fixed timed-AI, nor 100% estrus detection to select cows for all services.

Of the 24 winners, 13 dairies use some form of a presynch-ovsynch program, with a combination of synchronization and estrus detection for AI on all services. Eleven of the award-winning dairies use a 100% timed AI program for first service, followed by a combination of re-synchronization and estrus detection for subsequent services.

The range in VWP among the award winners was vast, ranging from 41 to 76 DIM. First service conception rates were outstanding, even for the dairies using sexed-semen on lactating cows, ranging from 37% – 66%.

An interesting observation presented was that disease incidence of the award-winning dairies was extremely low. Though the incidence of disease could be underreported in the computer records, this observation agrees with the presentation and conclusions of Dr. Ribeiro.

In conclusion, maximizing reproductive efficiency and performance is important to a successful and profitable year ahead. The annual meeting hosted by DCRC provided valuable information to dairy professionals that will benefit the dairy industry this year, and the years ahead.

Please visit http://www.dcrcouncil.org/ to learn more about this great organization, and the benefits of becoming a member.

DCRC is a proactive organization with long-term interest in raising awareness of issues critical to reproductive performance. Through information and communication, it strives to deliver the latest in technology and resources.

Article written by Dr. Benjamin Voelz, Premier Account Manager and Dr. Glaucio Lopes, Vice-President of DCRC and Alta University Manager, Alta Genetics.

For more details on the DCRC annual meeting, or with follow-up questions on this article, please contact: Benjamin Voelz (ben.voelz@altagenetics.com) or Glaucio Lopes (glaucio.lopes@altagenetics.com).

Dairy Cattle Reproduction Council logo
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Agreement on Plans to Merge Koepon & CRI

The boards of directors of Koepon Holding BV and Cooperative Resources International (CRI) have reached agreement on a plan to merge their organizations. The agreement is non-binding, and subject to due diligence and other customary conditions, including receipt of requisite governmental and other consents and approvals. Once completed, final agreement will be conditional upon approval by both boards of directors as well as the delegates of CRI. If successful, the organizations plan to formalize the merger by mid-2018.

Both Koepon and CRI, through Alta Genetics and GENEX, are global providers of bovine genetics and related services. Similarly, Koepon and CRI subsidiaries, Valley Ag Software and AgSource, provide herd management and information services to dairy producers. Koepon and CRI also have other businesses centered around services and products for agricultural producers. Koepon is privately owned, and CRI is  cooperatively-owned by its farmer-members. CRI cooperative operations will be maintained as part of the merged entity. The new organization will be incorporated and headquartered in Wisconsin.

About CRI:

CRI (www.crinet.com), a member-owned holding cooperative headquartered in Shawano, Wisconsin, is the global leader in delivering excellence, innovation and value to members and customers. This mission proclaims CRI’s position in the agriculture industry and commitment to those linked to the land through plant and animal production. CRI serves members and customers through diverse business segments: AgSource provides agricultural testing and informational services that transform meaningful data into innovative solutions; GENEX is a trusted provider of innovative excellence in cattle genetics; and MOFA GLOBAL develops superior quality assisted reproductive technologies. Employees from all segments live the values of innovation, integrity, leadership, quality and stewardship.

About Koepon Holding:

With strong roots in dairy farming through Pon family ownership, Koepon Holding (www.koepon.com) today is a vibrant combination of enterprises focused on creating value for beef and dairy producers worldwide.  Through leading genetic improvement programs and reproductive services (Alta Genetics), insight rich dairy management software (Valley Ag Software), and premium calf nutrition products (SCCL), Koepon positively impacts the performance and results of beef and dairy producers.  The company is fueled by the passion and pride of a worldwide team of talented and energetic people who focus daily on creating value and delivering results for their client partners.

For more information contact Cees Hartmans, CEO Koepon at cees.hartmans@koepon.com or Keith Heikes, CEO CRI at kheikes@crinet.com

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