Four Pregnancy Loss Risk Factors and How to Control Them

Pregnancy losses may be a larger problem on most dairies than many realize. This may be because pregnancy losses are only recorded after a pregnancy is confirmed at 30 to 45 days after insemination. However, recent studies have shown that more than 60 percent of all pregnancies are lost prior to term. And 85% of these losses occur prior to day 42, when the embryo becomes a fetus. That means that 51% of all pregnancies are lost before day 42 of the pregnancy. There are many causes for these losses. Known risk factors include: Postpartum diseases and disorders like dystocia, metritis, endometritis, mastitis, fever, ketosis and lameness Heat stress Digestive problems Negative energy balance and excessive weight loss Toxins in feedstuffs such as mycotoxins, gossypol and ergot alkaloids Infectious agents such as IBR, BVD, Campylobacter ssp., Lepta and Neospora caninum. Here are some steps you can take to control or reduce the following risk factors: 1.Heat Abatement One way to reduce these risks factors is with heat abatement. High producing dairy cows are sensitive to heat stress due to their high feed intake and high metabolic rate that generate body heat. Heat stress affects fertilization and early embryonic development. Therefore heat abatement becomes important to help prevent pregnancy losses.  Examples of heat abatement management practices are: Fans for air movement Sprinklers to wet the cows body surface Misters to cool the environment Shade in outdoor lots 2. Improved Health Fertility is strongly related to a cow’s health status. Cows with dystocia, metritis or endometritis are much less likely to have normal ovaria function which effects embryo development. Cows with...

21 Tips for Automatic Milking Robot Success

Agri-Nutrition Consulting’s Dr. Anne Proctor and a robotic dairy owner, Keith Groshek give us insight on having a robotic farm. If you are thinking about installing one, make sure you’ve covered all of your bases and read up on the following tips and tricks.  1. Two to four robots or 1-2 pods is a good number for one or more full-time people to handle, but any more than 4 robots will most likely be too much work to keep up. 2. The first year of having robots is about learning how to be hands-on with the robots and training the cows how to properly use it. 3. When buying robots, choose a company that has a dealership in your area and service people who have experience with the system. In other words, have a technician nearby that can help you if something needs attention.   4. If you are going to invest in robots, then invest in building or remodeling a barn with excellent cow comfort. Make sure the facility is not limiting your success and the well-being of your herd. 5. Talk with others who have the system you are interested in to find out what they don’t like about it.  Robots solve some challenges on the dairy, but create others.  Know what you are getting into before committing. 6. You do not need all the bells and whistle to be successful. However, you need to know what types of machines and programs fit YOUR style and goals for you to be successful.   7. Educate yourself on computers and software and become comfortable with computers. 8. Have a personality that...

The real facts and experiences of having a robotic farm

Keith Groshek, Agri-Nutrition Consulting customer working with Dr. Anne Proctor, farms with his father and uncles near Amherst Junction, WI.  They have grown the Holstein herd from 120 head in 2012 to 210 cows today (and capacity for 240 when the milking barn is full), thanks to the innovative ideals and advancements they have added to the dairy. In 2014, they built a robot milking barn with 2 pods; 4 robotic milkers.  The Groshek Dairy is currently averaging 90 lbs. of milk per cow and 3.7 % butterfat. As a family man, Keith wanted to have a more flexible schedule while maintaining a high producing herd without depending on hired labor. The thought of robotic milkers came to him in 2010, but he wanted to do things right the first time around, taking his time in educating himself and learning the different types of robotics and facility layouts. Keith spent over 2 years gathering any and all information he could he his hands on. Through his travels of visiting 11 different robot farms, he finalized his plans for his new milking facility. The guided-flow traffic design from DeLaval was the right choice for his vision and style of farming. Keith did consider both types of flow traffic (guided and free flow), but as he saw some of the free-flow systems he noticed a few things that would not be a good fit for his style. On some of the free-flow farms, he would watch a few of the cows go through the milking stall, turn around and go back again. He did not like the idea having the cows circle...

Veterinary Feed Directive (VFD) and what you need to know

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has made the final changes to the Veterinary Feed Directive (VFD) which states animal drugs intended for use in or on animal feed will require the supervision of a licensed veterinarian. As a producer, this means having a written prescription from an in state veterinarian with a client-patient relationship to use specific drugs.  For all VFD drug prescriptions there will be a clear start and expiration date for that drug to be fed to an approximate number of animals. The new regulations will eliminate the use of certain drugs for production purposes such as growth promotion and feed efficiency. Producer’s VFD drug responsibilities: contacting your veterinarian to diagnose and treat your animals following your veterinarian’s recommendations administering the VFD medicated feed to your animals according to the directions on the VFD order maintain a copy of the VFD order for a minimum of 2 years; and provide VFD orders for inspection and copying by FDA upon request provide a copy of the VFD order to the feed distributor if the issuing veterinarian sends the distributor’s copy of the VFD through you, the client Information required to be on a VFD order: veterinarian’s name, address, and telephone number client’s name, business or home address, and telephone number premises at which the animals specified in the VFD are located date of VFD issuance expiration date of the VFD name of the VFD drug(s) species and production class of animals to be fed the VFD feed approximate number of animals to be fed the VFD feed by the expiration date of the VFD indication for which the VFD is issued...

Graze your way to success

Did you know there is more than one way to feed market livestock? The majority of people overlook some of the easiest ways to feed their meat animals. All they have to do is step outside and look. I am talking about grazing rotations with the land they already possess. There are numerous benefits of managing your pastures such as lowering feed costs, maintaining lush vegetation, reducing acidosis in the rumen, longer grazing durations, and limited soil erosion. Grazing rotation management for pastures and/or ranges is the control of the frequency and the intensity of animals that are consuming the forages. Basically, for the farmer to optimize herd performance and maintain forages, he or she has to keep a balance of where the livestock are grazing and how long they need to be in the area to consume enough nutrients without overgrazing the land. Overgrazing causes the farmer’s natural renewable feed source to be depleted. It costs more to regenerate the forages through the extra labor, re-seeding, fertilizers, etc. If herdsmen maintain their pastures at an appropriate level it will take little to no effort for upkeep. Having too high of a grazing intensity in a specific area will not only affect the health of the vegetation, but the performance of the animals. As the grazing pressure increases, the animal’s intake of nutrients is reduced due to lesser amounts of available nutrients. (Helpful tip: animal performance determines the amount of feed consumed per day. If you have high performance goals, then the animal will need to consume more to maintain the energy and nutrient requirements.) Livestock will consume the...

Summer months affecting your herd’s fertility?

Heat stress can occur in cattle at any time where the temperature is over 72°F and 45% humidity. Heat stress not only affects food intake and production, but many overlook how it can lower fertility and conception rates.  Several factors can contribute to fertility issues during summer heat. Shorter periods of exhibiting estrus Less mounting activity Exhibit estrus only after temperatures cool in evenings Higher internal body temperature Poor quality of semen, egg, and embryo AI conception decreases Greater chance of absorption during pregnancy All of these lead to much lower estrus detection during the hot weather. Detection may be improved with the use of mount detectors. Estrus synchronization protocols and timed insemination can improve conception rates with the help of proper management. The warmer temperatures can affect the viability of the egg during ovulation and the embryo after fertilization.  Even after implantation, production of progesterone, which is needed to maintain the pregnancy can be reduced.  Therefore can cause an increase in prostaglandin F2alpha production which can cause pregnancy failure. Semen quality can also be reduced in hot weather if natural service is being used. Bulls can have damaging effects from the summer weather by not being able to keep the testicles cool for sperm development. They will have a higher amount of unviable and deformed sperm. Cattle have limited ability to sweat and cool themselves by evaporative cooling. It is necessary for the herdsmen to take initiative and provide shade, housing, foggers or misters, and fans to help cool the animals. This helps livestock maintain cooler body temperatures and recover faster. More so, it will help maintain milk production...