A genetic approach to improved fertility

Semen tank in feed alley

1. CREATE MORE PREGNANCIES NOW

If you’re looking for a fertility advantage on inseminations today, sire fertility rankings are where you’ll want to focus. The Alta CONCEPT PLUS sire fertility evaluation ranks each sire on his ability to get cows pregnant. In fact, regardless which semen type you use in your breeding strategy, you’ll find high fertility CONCEPT PLUS options to fit.

Why should you trust Alta’s CONCEPT PLUS ratings? They are based on real pregnancy check results from progressive dairy herds throughout North America. The evaluation also maintains accuracy by accounting for factors like number of times bred, month/season, technician and breeding code effects.

  1. Improve conception rates now by using sires with the high fertility CONCEPT PLUS rating to boost your herd’s current conception rates.
  2. Improve fertility of your future herd by including DPR and/or HCR and CCR in your customized genetic plan.

  • CONCEPT PLUS DxD
    high fertility sires will give you a 2%-5% greater chance at creating a pregnancy with conventional semen.

  • CONCEPT PLUS 511
    high fertility SexedULTRA sires offer a 4%-9% conception rate advantage over the average sexed bull

  • CONCEPT PLUS BxD
    high fertility beef x dairy sires give you a 2%-5% greater chance at creating a conventional pregnancy than the average beef bull used on dairy cows.

If you’re more familiar with sire conception rate (SCR), keep in mind that Alta’s CONCEPT PLUS 511 evaluation is more complete, current, and consistent – and actually served as a basis for SCR. The info below compares each evaluation.

Both CONCEPT PLUS and SCR measure the fertility of a given bull. Both evaluations are based on real pregnancy check data and account for various factors that affect fertility, including age, month, herd, service number, and lactation.

CONCEPT PLUS is the most complete sire fertility evaluation because: 

  • there are separate ratings available for conventional, sexed, and beef x dairy breedings
  • it accounts for additional factors affecting fertility, like technician and breeding code effects
  • CONCEPT PLUS data is collected from progressive dairies in North America, and not restricted to US farms on official test

CONCEPT PLUS offers a more current evaluation because:

  • CONCEPT PLUS is based on pregnancy check results from the past two years (SCR includes four years of data)
  • CONCEPT PLUS updates are available 6 times per year (new SCR results are available 3 times per year)

CONCEPT PLUS is more consistent because the data used in the evaluation is gathered only from large-herd environments with progressive management and reproduction programs. (SCR comes from herd of all sizes, and is limited to those who choose to be included on official testing)

2. CREATE A MORE FERTILE FUTURE HERD

While sire fertility can get you more pregnancies now, it takes a different genetic focus to ensure progress toward a more fertile future herd of females.

Daughter pregnancy rate (DPR), heifer conception rate (HCR) and cow conception rate (CCR) all provide a genetic basis for creating more fertile females. Emphasizing one, or any combination, of these traits in your customized genetic plan means you are breeding a next generation of cows with a greater ability to conceive.

Daughter pregnancy rate is defined as the number of non-pregnant cows that become pregnant within each 21-day period. When a sire has a DPR of 1.0, it means that his daughters are 1% more likely than the average herdmate to become pregnant in a given 21-day window. And each added point of DPR equates to 4 fewer days open.

When referring to HCR and CCR, these traits are defined respectively as a virgin heifer or lactating cow’s ability to conceive. For each of these traits, when a sire has a value of 1.0, it means that his daughters are 1% more likely to conceive than daughters of a sire with an HCR or CCR of 0.0. While DPR is a slightly different calculation than HCR or CCR, all three are a way to measure the fertility of the female herself.

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

Lactation 1 Cows# of cowsAverage Sire DPRActual Preg Rate
Top 25% for highest Sire DPR 174 2.3 27%
Bottom 25% for lowest Sire DPR 137 -1.1 20%
Difference 3.4 7%

IMPROVE FERTILITY RESULTS – NOW AND INTO THE FUTURE

If you’re looking to improve fertility and reproduction in your future herd, don’t miss out on the impact that genetics can play in taking you to the next level. Despite the low heritability of fertility traits, these two steps will help improve your herd’s reproductive results now and into the future:

  1. Improve conception rates now by using sires with the high fertility CONCEPT PLUS rating to boost your herd’s current conception rates.
  2. Improve fertility of your future herd by including DPR and/or HCR and CCR in your customized genetic plan.
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