Ms. Amanda Hargett, Dairy Extension Associate, The Ohio State University
The 2004 Ohio Dairy Management Conference was held December 2 & 3, 2004 in Columbus, OH. There were approximately 135 dairy industry personnel, dairy producers, and Extension and agribusiness personnel gathered for information on topics such as herd management, communicating with employees and family, and reproductive management. Plan now to attend the December 2006 Conference! See below for a recap of Dr. Ray Nebel's talks on "Keys to a Successful Reproductive Management Program". For a copy of the Proceedings, please contact: Ms. Amanda Hargett, 222C Animal Science Building, 2029 Fyffe Rd, Columbus, OH 43210, or 614-688-3143.
Several factors can affect reproductive performance, and the keys to managing these factors were discussed by Dr. Ray Nebel during the Ohio Dairy Management Conference. The key areas addressed were: herd health, management, cow fertility, and insemination procedures. However, before any producer addresses these issues, there are a few questions that should be asked before any changes are made: 1) How is CURRENT performance? 2) Is it getting worse or better? 3) If it is "broken", what needs to be "fixed"? 4) Are there predictable patterns you can apply resources to?, and 5) Are you willing to make changes? The last question is probably the most important question.
Some traditional tools that are used for measuring reproductive performance and their goals are as follows: 1) days open: 130 days, 2) days to first service: 75, 3) pregnancy rate: >20%, 4) conception rate, 1st service: >40%, 5) heat detection rate: >60 %, and 6) age at first calving, 24 months.
Several factors can affect reproductive success; some are easily manageable, and some are not. Those areas that are easily influenced are personnel, cow comfort/facilities, heat detection, nutrition, insemination technique, timing of insemination, semen handling, and transition cow management. In the management of space and time, focus on one area and probably one of the most important ones: Personnel. A producer wants someone who enjoys working with the cows, is motivated to do a good job, is a team player, and also knowledgeable. Remember though that individuals can be taught about cows, but you cannot teach them to love the cows and to want to do a good job. While writing up Standard Operating Procedures (SOP) and policies can be very time consuming and often are not high priorities on many farms, they can help you manage your employees much better.
For more details, see the Proceedings of the 2004 Ohio Dairy Management Conference.