Dodge County DHIA
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Educational Materials For Dairy Producers

Milk Quality Economic Opportunity Dashboard
By: Dr. Jeffery Bewley

An easy to use calculator that shows you how much money you can save in a year from lowering your cell count


Article by Quality Certification Inc.: 

Why are my DHI test and milk payment component results different?

Excellent article references from National DHIA for reason why to test your milk.

DBC Articles

Johne's Disease

Johne's disease is caused by Mycobacterium avium ss paratuberculosis, also known as MAP. Symptoms can show up in months to years after an animal is infected. This infection is contagious and can spread from one animal to another by various ways. Fecal, milk and in utero are the most common ways it can spread. All ruminant animals can get Johne's and occurs more frequently in domestic agricultural herds. In the US, it's is sited that about 68% of the dairy herds have at least one animal that has the disease/tests positive.

There are two clinical signs of the disease, rapid weight loss and diarrhea. If an animal is infected when they are young, the symptoms will not show up until they are adults. There are ways to test if an animal had the disease. If one tests positive, there is a greater chance that there are more in the herd that are positive, but still appear perfectly healthy.  There are three ways to test for the disease: fecal (individual or pooled ample), blood, or milk. The best way is to consult with your vet as to which way of testing is best for your herd.

There is no cure for Johne's at this time. The best way to prevent it from entering your herd is to not introduce new animals into your herd. Buy animals from tested Johne's Free Herds or from a producer that has a good knowledge of it in their herd and buy only from dams that have tested negative for it.

For more information about Johne's Disease, please go to the following websites:

UW-Wisconsin Johne's Information Center
Eastern Wisconsin DHIC -Milk testing
Johne's Disease: The Ostrich Approach Just Isn't Working!
    National Holstein Association PowerPoint Presentation

Why DHI? By George Cudoc and Frank Welcome, DVM

Proper management is the key to success in any enterprise, and the dairy business is no exception. Every successful producer must have accurate and reliable records to make sound management decisions.

Records of identification, production, reproduction, udder health, disease, feed efficiency and finances help producers with the many decisions they must make every day. Collecting and organizing data, then turning it into information, can help cull the right cow, feed the best ration, select the best genetics, and make profit-enhancing management decisions. This use of management data is the key reason herds using DHI records consistently produce more and higher quality milk than herds that do not, yet only 50% of dairies use this structured herd management system. Helping dairymen manage their herds using  information is one of the roles played by Dairy Herd Improvement (DHI) programs like the one at Dairy One.

The DHI program has animal genetics and individual cow value ingrained in it all the way back to its’ beginning. In recent years the DHI program has become more of a management-oriented program. When the information is properly used, there is a tremendous economic return from the investment required to obtain the records.

As herds increase in size, less individual attention is paid to one particular cow. As a result, larger herds now require more effective tools for making dairy management decisions. These decisions are based on information summarized by a computer, allowing the dairy producer to have management reports available for an individual cow, a group of cows or the herd. These reports then allow the quality and effectiveness of management to be improved by using information in a condensed format.

DHI records are presented three distinct ways:

1) test day data, such as milk produced, components made, health indicators like somatic cell count (SCC), and efficiency measures, like MUN.

2) lactation information, such as ME305 day milk, peak production; and event recording, such as breeding and pregnancy.

3) herd summarization information, like herd pregnancy risk, cull rates and rolling herd average.

Milk production records, including pounds of milk, fat percentage, protein percentage and SCC, are integral parts of any dairy management record system for groups of cows, and are best collected and summarized on individual cows as compared to bulk tank averages.

Reproductive records should include calving, breeding and fertility data as well as date of birth, date of all estruses or heats, breeding dates including the sire used and results of veterinary checks including pregnancy checks.

Health records should include all vaccinations, all diseases and treatments, and the SCC data from the analysis of the monthly milk records. Reasons for culling animals and problems on a specific day should also be included in the records.

The dairy producer should choose programs and reports that best suit their needs. Those programs and reports should provide analyses of milk production, reproduction, udder health and milk value data, allowing comparisons among individual cows within the herd, or groups of cows within the herd.

The data should allow dairy producers to determine how they compare to themselves over time or to other dairy producers, so they can determine the strong and weak points of their operations. This comparison allows dairy producers to determine the areas they can most improve in their herd management. Reports will enable you to evaluate management changes made to improve productivity or reduce particular threats, such as mastitis infection rates.

The collection of raw data enables dairy producers to compute management reports, which will provide herd summaries, and cow exception reports. These allow dairy producers to manage their herds more efficiently so they can spend less time with their records, managing only animals needing attention on a particular day. An example of this might be cows over 70 days in milk and not yet serviced (see Table 1).

Table 1.      Cows over 70 days in milk not yet serviced

Animal        Date              Times          Days
ID                Calved             Bred            Open
226            12/15/08            0                  112
687              1/25/09            0                    71
845              1/11/09            0                    85
946              11/1/08            0                   156
986              1/25/09           0                     71
Total: 5

Dairy Herd Improvement (DHI) records provide producers information to use in improving their herds’ production efficiency. DHI records are computerized and may be maintained on a desktop personal computer (PC) or on a larger system at a processing center. The information is collected by an outside DHI technician on the farm and uploaded to a location for loading into a mainframe or server computer.

For many producers who do not have a computer, DHI paper “mailed back” records offer a record-keeping system without the financial investment of a computer system and the time to learn to use it.

Management reports may be defined by dairy producers with DHI records and used to guide their daily management activities. These reports may be adapted and customized for various parameters the dairy producer considers important. Reports are available for culling guides, management lists of practices to be performed at various stages of lactation, heifer management reports, lactation graphs and calving records, herd health records, inventory for animals, semen usage, somatic cell information and various herd analysis packages which compares individual animals to the herd.

All computers can store, list and print data. However, many software programs include graphic displays for ease in evaluating the information to assist in decision making (see Figure 1). You may obtain graphs of individual cows, groups of animals within the herd or the entire herd.

Figure 1. Many software programs include graphic displays for ease in evaluating the information to assist in decision making. You may obtain graphs of individual cows, groups of animals within the herd or the entire herd.

These graphs are not essential in a record-keeping system, but are sometimes much easier to understand, evaluate and use than data tables. Breeding and health information displayed graphically quickly shows if the reproductive performance of a group of cows or an individual cow is within the goals established by the dairy producer.

The DHI program provides milk producers an opportunity to obtain a tremendous amount of data regarding their dairy cows at a very small cost compared to the value. DHI assembles that data into useful management information each month. It is the responsibility of the producer or the manager to interpret that information to help manage the herd more effectively and improve the efficiency and profitability of the dairy operation.

When all is said and done, maybe the real question should be “Why not DHI?”

QM2 is the newsletter of Dairy One and Quality Milk Production Services.

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