Friday, November 18, 2016

The “genetics” of hoof trimming

A majority of dairymen today have a hoof trimmer on call, in fact may have a regular monthly or weekly hoof trimming day.    The growth of demand for hoof trimming is usually blamed on three things:  (1st)
“Cows milk more than they used to, eat more grain, making their hooves grow out more”.   (2nd)  “Cows are walking less, mostly on wet concrete, keeping their feet soft and vulnerable”.   (3rd)   “Heel warts and hoof rot are everywhere, and don’t go away until treated and wrapped”.

A study done in Utah and Idaho in 2013 on heel warts

A major distributor of improved foot bath solutions wanted to understand why hoof problems recur even when hygienic solutions are being used.    They visually observed 16,000 cows over six months in large herd systems, and ultimately stumbled on a startling observation:
The weaker the front end structure of the cow, the higher the frequency of heel warts.

Foot angle didn’t matter; Set of rear hock didn’t matter; level of production didn’t matter.     Cows with “strong” front ends had the least heel warts observed, while cows with “frail” front ends had the most.
Note:  the designation of “strong” or “frail” was based on the “aAa” concepts of physical qualities.

Why does a “strong” front end lead to a “strong” foot on a cow?

This is the interrelationship of parts to function.    aAa “strong” (code 4) is a full, deep chest, which is the best visual indicator of high heart function.    The heart circulates oxygenated blood to the internal organs and external muscles of the cow.    For a cow to resist heel wart virus’ or other foot infections, she must have good blood flow to reach extremities like the hoof.    It is also noted that ‘strong” cows will have harder horn (hoof) tissue, thus protecting the sole underneath and resisting soft toe growth.

An observation of feet that refuse to grow evenly

The selection tendency toward narrower cows in high input, high feed energy dairies has produced a lot of cows who stand on uneven feet.     Looking particularly at front feet, you will see the outside toe is bigger (in both depth and length) than the inside toe, which appears to be carrying the most weight.   It is not unusual for such cows to “toe out”—and you lead them to the hoof trimmer each time he comes, in hopes he can make the cow “stand straight”.

By contrast, cows with some width of chest tend to stand sturdy, and the toes on their feet will be equal in size (inner and outer toes evenly formed and wearing evenly).    

Why does a “wide” front end lead to a “healthy” foot on a cow?

In another functional interrelationship, the aAa “smooth” (code 5) cow is more “balanced” in position of all four legs to stand the full width of the cow’s body, allowing for a straighter track and sturdy stance which, in combination, avoids uneven weight distribution side to side on the hoof.    Beyond that, wider chested cows (with wider heads) can breathe more fully and deeply, thus providing more oxygen in the lungs for reoxygenating the blood flowing to the legs and feet, aiding them in staying healthy.


Is your approach to mating using all the foot and leg information needed to breed better mobility ??

Harvesting all the genetics you select

Genetic selection when done well sets you up with the possibility of better production from healthier cows.

Mating that considers gene interrelationships in cow physiques sets you up to harvest genetic potential at an optimal level.

Random mating (the total population average) assumes the current (genomic) generation matches up equally with the prior (evaluation) generation, in spite of having transformed genotypes.    Thus 40% of the results are generally culled as failures (extremes).

If you are tired of 40% culling to harvest 60% of genetic potential, consider the effect of physical quality selection as a superior way to mate your cows to ranking bulls.

Mich Livestock Service, Inc    “For the Best in Bulls”    Independent AI genetic supplier    (800) 359-1693

Saturday, November 5, 2016

What the market does with the milk we produce

2013 milk market information shows that USA dairymen produced 200.3 billion pounds of milk.
This raw milk volume contained 25.172 billion pounds of  milk solids:  these are primarily
 **  Butterfat   ** Protein   ** Lactose   ** Minerals

Thus, roughly 12.5% of the total volume of milk as blended from farms’ production is milk solids leaving roughly 87.5% as fluid carrier  (ie, water that flushed these milk solids from the mammary glands).

Of course, when we bottle milk as a beverage for drinking (or to pour on morning cereal) (or to mix into casserole or cake recipes), that “fluid carrier” still has a purpose as hydration.    In 2013, 26.1% of milk produced (52.3 billion pounds) went into a jug or bottle.

That left 148 billion pounds of milk whose processing involves removing some or all of the water.   It is this removal of water that is the biggest single [energy] cost in the milk processing industry.    It is in the transport of this excess water that milk hauling costs are more burdensome to dairymen, and the price of milk on your milk check is also proportionately reduced by the processing “make allowances”.

Of the milk not bottled, 37.1% (74.3 billion pounds) is made into cheese of various forms.   The average   cheese yield from commercial blended milk is 10%.     Thus 74.3 billion pounds of raw milk gets made into 7.45 billion pounds of cheese, leaving behind 66.85 billion pounds of whey.

Whey will contain the milk solids not formed into curds.    It can be dried into a powder that can be used in processed food or animal feed, as long as federal environmental rules are met.   Otherwise it becomes an industrial waste and thus must be handled similarly to sewage waste to recover the water.

18.9% of milk is “separated” (cream removed).    The cream is churned into butter and the skim milk is dried into non-fat dry milk powder which again will enter either human food or animal feed.

4.2% of milk becomes yogurt or other “cultured cream” products.

4.1% of milk becomes ice cream or other frozen packaged products.

This leaves 9.6% of milk that is processed into a myriad of other forms (eg, evaporated milk) some of which have very low value recovery, like pet food, or the result of rejected loads.

The genetics of increased value milk

We provide information on all milk components with the exception of lactose (milk sugar):
Butterfat percent        (bf%)   This is estimated to be 50% heritable, one of the higher traits measured
Protein percent          (pr%)    This is estimated to be 55% heritable, the highest of measured traits    
Somatic Cell Count   (SCS)    Estimated at 15% heritability, lower values lead to quality premiums
Beta Casein               (A2 preferred)   Directly heritable as a dual allele gene pairing
Kappa Casein            (B preferred)     Directly heritable as a dual allele gene pairing

Beta Casein is a health quality protein preferred by those with various autoimmune diseases

Kappa Casein is the form of protein that produces curds and will increase cheese yields 7% to 15%