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MU Southwest Center Dairy
Honored for Reproductive Efficiency

The University of Missouri Southwest Center Dairy has received the Dairy Cattle Reproduction Council’s 2013 Platinum Award for reproductive efficiency. MU College of Veterinary Medicine Associate Extension Professor Scott Poock, DVM, received the award Nov. 7 at the council’s annual conference in Indianapolis.

The award recognizes dairy producers who have successfully implemented management procedures that have achieved high reproductive efficiency. Forty-seven herds were nominated this year in two categories, Holsteins and other breeds. The dairy was one of two to receive a platinum award in the “other breed” category. Its 90-cow herd consists of Holstein, Kiwi Friesian, Kiwi Cross and Jersey animals.

“We are honored to be counted amongst the best herds in the nation for reproductive efficiency and the first pasture-based dairy to achieve the Platinum award,” Poock said. “The purpose of the Southwest Center herd is to do field research and then educate producers. The award verifies that we are accomplishing these goals.”

The center frequently incorporates veterinary students in its efforts. Poock works with students to ultrasound the dairy cows for pregnancy and fetal sexing, usually at the time of milking. The center milks in a 10 “on a side” swing parlor, where as one side finishes milking they are let out of the parlor and then file into a palpation rail for ultrasounding, Poock said. A pregnancy examination is performed in July to determine which cows settled to the artificial insemination (AI) breeding. In August, a second pregnancy examination determines which cows have been serviced by the cleanup bulls.

During the past three breeding seasons, Poock, Matt Lucy, professor of animal science, and Stacey Hamilton, MU Extension dairy specialist, have been researching estrus synchronization programs to utilize timed AI. This means that all the cows are inseminated the first day of the breeding season.  Veterinary students participate in inseminating the herd.

“We have had six different veterinary students help with the breeding, and they have done an excellent job, as we have had a 55 to 60 percent pregnancy rate to the first insemination,” Poock said. “By doing timed AI, the herd has been able to calve more cows earlier in the season, which translates into more milk production for the lactation for the herd. It also helps the cows get pregnant the following season, as they have more time to return to cyclicity.”

In addition, the center has implemented a synchronization program for the yearling heifers during the past four breeding seasons in which students also help with the artificial insemination. Poock said the pregnancy rates to first AI have ranged from 70 to 74 percent, an improvement from the 50 percent the center was attaining prior to the synchronization.

The Dairy Cattle Reproduction Council was formed in 2006 after a group of industry leaders identified dairy cattle reproductive performance as one of the biggest challenges facing dairy producers. The group believed a steady decline in fertility could be helped through education, technology and focused research. Through coordinated efforts by all sectors of the dairy industry, the DCRC aims to promote the development and adoption of reproductive technologies.


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Last Update: August 8, 2013