Monday, April 25, 2022

Kingfisher (and Red Tail) corn brands consistent winners in Forage Superbowl

Kingfisher (conventional hybrid) and Red Tail (traited hybrid) corn silage samples have shown up at the annual World Dairy Expo “Forage Superbowl” over the past five years, and have been standout entries.    For 2021 KF and RT corns placed five of the top ten entries, based on feed quality measures.   These five finalists averaged 2.5 points better than the other five brands on “30 hour digestibility”.      That trait aids in the time and quality of fermentation.

The success of the KF and RT brands relates to their focused genetic selection for nutritional values.    They are expected to be fed to animals—not focused on the overseas grain export trade or ethanol production (although the first “high oil” corns included look pretty promising).
Yields are competitive while feeding quality is better.  

Kingfisher “Synergy X” alfalfa blend is also Superbowl champion

Does a Beef producer need the highest quality alfalfa?     Quality never hurts, but with Synergy you have a blend of alfalfas that insures a more consistent yield (compensating for variations in fields for soil types, rain water retention and drainage, and winter heaving).     No one likes to run short of feed when spring calving approaches.   No one wants cows to lose too much weight nursing calves, especially if it affects timely breed-back.    

Synergy X has the quality to maintain a nursing cow, to help weaned calves grow, or help steers reach finished condition without totally relying on corn and beans given their increased market value.    Byron has perennial grass blends that will efficiently maintain cows once bred back, so you can cover every stage of animal growth between “push” and “coast”.

Monday, April 18, 2022

Different ways to look at bulls (focusing on somatic cell scores)

The real difficulty in reading sire data today is the complexity of available trait scoring and ranking systems. The less time we have, the more we depend on simple ranking indexes (Holstein TPI) (Jersey JPI) (Net Merit $) and thus ignore the underlying patterns that more clearly define reasons for each bull to either be used [he can help us] or avoided [he offers nothing exceptional].

Different ways to rank bulls, seeking future value

A2A2 Beta Casein is now on the radar of dairymen seeking an edge in the future milk markets. BB Kappa Casein is already a premium trait in Europe, where most milk checks derive more income from cheese making. What else do bulls with these milk quality traits offer to improve the equity value of your future herd?

Mich Livestock Service, Inc Ph (989) 834- 2661 *** since 1952

Monday, April 11, 2022

How do I read sire ratings for Somatic Cell Score ?

The DHIA systems around the USA offer Somatic Cell testing within the usual milk volume and component % data collection. Of course, you may be among the many who are concluding a once a month reading on Somatic Cell is not helping you much to control mastitis flare-ups, one of the key occurrences affecting milk quality bonus payments.

However, from a genetic selection standpoint, there is some heritability to the SCS trait score. Latest estimates put the h2 of Somatic Cell Score at 15%, right in the middle of the range over linear type and production traits. Over time, you can build a better herd profile by paying some attention to this in sire data.

What is a “somatic cell score”?

A “somatic” cell is any cell with a nucleus. The testing is designed to estimate the current level of spent white blood cells in the milk (evidence of the body fighting an infection somewhere in a cow’s system). The “Coulter” counters used do have trouble telling the difference between an infection cell and other nuclei, such as a shed skin cell (extraordinarily high butterfat% will affect the SCC measure adversely by such cells sticking to the fat particles in the milk).

Note that SCC does not specifically mean just “mastitis” infections. ANY infection in the cow’s body which draws a white blood cell response from the immune system will raise SCC levels. In fact, the biggest spikes in SCC often come when cows are fighting heel warts or foot rot.

How do I read the data ?

The sire PTA values are standardized around 3.00 as being “average”. A better bull will be under that 3.00 level, a lesser bull will be over that 3.00 level. It is best to assume that values between 2.95 and 3.05 are essentially “average” – you will have trouble detecting any change from sires in that range of SCS. Note: The lowest SCS bulls (down around 2.40) often have a reputation for “slow” milking speed, and the highest SCS bulls (up around 3.50) may be that way because their daughters “leak” milk prior to milking. Integrity of the teat sphincters has an impact (good or bad) on both milking speed and milk letdown.

Current examples of Holstein sires with exceptional SCS values

566 HO 1345 Claytop G-Plus EVER RED SCS 2.61 and this is in spite of being +.21% bfat. Milking Speed is rated 103 (3% better than average) . His aAa of 456 indicates him a source of “Strong” substance, “Smooth” body condition ability, “Style” durable bones. He looks pretty good on the Zoetis “Wellness Trait” DNA measurements. He is A2A2 for Beta Casein.

566 HO 1335 E-Lane Escobar LAYNE RED SCS 2.59 +.18 b’fat. Milking Speed 100. He is also another A2A2 Beta Casein source and is rated 110 by Zoetis for Mastitis Resistance.

Monday, April 4, 2022

Building equity value into a dairy herd in today’s commodity world

In one week during an “aAa” customer schedule across north central Ohio, I discovered two Holstein herd owners with the same novel idea: select on gene markers for two premium milk categories (not just one). In other words, they were now requiring all service sires to have the A2A2 gene markers for “Beta Casein” (milk digestibility) as well as the BB gene markers for “Kappa Casein” (cheese yield).

These dairies are in the Dalton (125 cows) and Orrville (250 cows) area of Wayne County Ohio, where land prices and absentee landlord ownership make herd expansion nearly impossible. Thus it takes a premium milk marketing strategy while reducing external input costs to increase returns on investment. In their part of the world, there are processors seeking higher value milk, either for bottling (for the Cleveland market) or for cheese making.

Is it hard to find Holstein bulls worth using who are A2A2 Beta Casein? Not any longer, at least in the programs we offer, a third of the sires are known A2A2 (the expected Holstein percent of A2A2 animals is 25%). Is it harder to find Holstein bulls worth using who are BB Kappa Casein? You bet it is... the expected Holstein percent of BB animals is less than 10%.

If you check out the latest sire catalog from AI TOTAL you will find they feature 21 A2A2 sires and 13 BB sires. Nine of these sires are both A2A2 Beta Casein and BB Kappa Casein. So far we are stocking these:
515 HO 381 I AM RED PP GTPI is 2646. Net Merit $ is 657.

724 HO 2005 NIPIT PP *RC GTPI is 2685. Net Merit $ is 577. 288 HO 237 ADAWAY GTPI is 2809. Net Merit $ is 743.

It is not unusual today to find the Red & White and *RC sires have advantageous gene marker profiles. An example of an A2A2/ BB combination at INTERNATIONAL PROTEIN SIRES is: 566 HO 1321 CATCH ON PP RED +.13% bf and +.10% pr. Low SCC 2.66. Calving ease 1.6%

It is much easier to find A2A2 Beta Casein and BB Kappa Casein together in Jersey bulls, but if you also add in PP (“Pure Polled”=homozygous polled) it gets harder... yet both International Protein Sires and Triple Hil Sires, as well as Sustainable Genetics have several such combines.

Anticipating new market opportunities is a good strategy, and the A2A2 and BB opportunities are only available by focusing your genetic inputs. If this appeals to you, we are happy to be of help in identifying and sourcing bulls with unique gene marker traits.