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Category Archives: 4-EVENT COW

Two Alta 4-EVENT COWS in your maternity pen

Everyone knows that the journey to 4-EVENT COW status starts at freshening.

Or does it?

Think about your maternity pen. In there, you have the new dam and her female calf. The cow just started her journey to 4-EVENT COW status by recording FRESH as her first mark in the 4-EVENT COW circle.

The one we often forget about when thinking of Alta 4-EVENT COWS is her female calf. If this newborn is not given the best possible start, right from birth, she may not even get the chance to record that first mark in the 4-EVENT COW cycle.

So how do we help both of them become future Alta 4-EVENT COWS?

Getting THE COW off to the right start after calving

When your farm’s transition, maternity, fresh cow and nutrition programs are in good order, you up your chances of creating more of those healthy, trouble-free Alta 4-EVENT COWS – both from the calves born and cows that freshen.

Future reproductive troubles and health challenges often stem back to the transition period. So to help you get more of your cows on track to 4-EVENT status, we’ve got two things you can implement in your management strategy.

1. Activity and rumination monitoring systems like Alta COW WATCH will keep you ahead of any illness – usually before a major problem even occurs. With the repro, health and welfare of the cow in mind, Alta COW WATCH alerts you of potential health troubles throughout a cow’s lactation. This is especially critical in the fresh pen, because it allows you to use preventive measures instead of reactionary treatment. That will save you time and labor, and treatment costs, and give you peace of mind.

2. A nutritional calcium supplement, like RumiLife® CAL24™ given at calving, will get your cows off to the right start. CAL24 is the simplest way to promote proper calcium levels so you can also avoid the fresh cow problems that often accompany subclinical milk fever. Plus, you can give a full dose of two CAL24 boluses at once, right after calving, so you don’t need to catch each cow again 12 hours later. That saves time, labor, and stress on you and the cow.

Getting THE CALF off to the right start at birth

She’s still a couple years away, but this newborn calf can be a future Alta 4-EVENT COW if you give her the best care, right from the start. That includes keeping a clean environment, offering a low-stress entrance into the world, and remembering the 3 Q’s of colostrum after she’s born.

  1. Quickly – feed colostrum as soon as possible, and ideally within two hours after birth for optimal transfer of immunity
  2. Quantity – ensure that you feed colostrum with enough fat and enough IgGs
    • 100 grams of IgG is the minimum amount a calf needs
    • 150-200 grams of IgG is the gold standard to give that calf the best possible start
  1. Quality – if you use maternal colostrum, test it first with the Brix refractometer. Use the following guidelines to know whether a colostrum replacement or supplement, like Calf’s Choice Total® (CCT) Colostrum is needed.
    • Brix < 18%: Replace maternal colostrum with CCT.
    • Brix = 18%-22%: Supplement maternal colostrum with CCT.
    • Brix = 22%-25%: Supplementation is optional for excellent passive transfer of immunity.
    • Brix > 25%: No supplement is required.

The first meal is the most important one that a calf will ever have. It’s a known fact that calves have fewer health problems when they’re given the best immunity and energy in their first meal – colostrum. Studies show that proper colostrum management lends way to higher average daily gains (ADG), which in turn yields higher production levels once that calf freshens in for the first time.

So in that calf’s first hours, keep these 3 Q’s of colostrum in mind, to help set her up for a successful future as an Alta 4-EVENT COW.

Help them both become Alta 4-EVENT COWS

The calf and cow in your maternity pen can both be future 4-EVENT COWS in your herd. Start them on their way by getting them off to the right start after calving and the right start at birth.

Work with your trusted Alta advisor to see how you can incorporate Alta COW WATCH, RumiLife CAL24, and CCT Colostrum in your herd, or learn more about each, at the links below:

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The making of an Alta 4-EVENT COW

Meet cow 5677.

She lives on a 1500-cow dairy farm that partners with Alta Genetics and uses an Alta AI technician to handle all of the herd’s reproduction. On the dairy, she’s milked three times per day through a double-20 parallel parlor.

She’s fed a well-balanced ration, and when she’s not eating, spends her time comfortably resting in sand-bedded freestalls. 5677 is currently in her second lactation. And at Alta, she’s what we call a 4-event cow.

What is an Alta 4-EVENT COW?

If you look at any cow card in DairyComp or your herd management program, a 4-event cow has only four major events listed throughout her lactation:

  1. FRESH
  2. BRED
  3. CONFIRMED PREGNANT
  4. DRY

In the case of 5677, this means she had a live calf with no troubles. She had no milk fever, ketosis, or retained placenta. No other metabolic issues slowed her down after calving, and by avoiding those issues, she did not incur treatment costs.

After the dairy’s 60-day voluntary wait period, 5677 was bred. Since BRED is only listed once on her cow card, we know it took only one unit of semen – meaning just one insemination for her to conceive.

She was later confirmed pregnant, noted as PREG on her cow card. This is only possible because she did not have early embryonic death loss or an abortion, and no other reproductive troubles.

The fourth, and final event of 5677’s lactation shows as DRY on her cow card. This means there were no other lingering issues throughout her lactation. She went about her business as usual, until time to be dried off in preparation for her next lactation.

What’s missing?

You might wonder what is missing from 5677’s cow card. Of course, maintenance events like pen moves, foot trims, vaccinations, and pregnancy re-checks also occur during a cow’s lactation.

But what’s really missing in a 4-event cow’s lactation are the setbacks – the costly, time-consuming issues that hinder overall herd profitability. A 4-event cow like 5677 does not get mastitis. She doesn’t become lame, and she does not abort her calf midway through the pregnancy. She avoids the sickness, infections and troubles that can cause major headaches for even the best dairy producers.

Make more like 5677

Cow 5677 is not only a 4-event cow. She’s a profitable cow. Consider the time and money you save, and peace of mind you gain, with 4-event cows. A herd full of cows like 5677 don’t require costly treatments, and don’t drop in milk production due to those health concerns.

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CONCEPT PLUS in the making of an Alta 4-EVENT COW

Remember cow 5677? At Alta, she’s what we call a 4-event cow. That means the management records on her individual cow card tell us she only experienced four events in her most recent lactation:

  1. FRESH – with a healthy calf and no metabolic issues
  2. BRED – serviced just one time, which means she got off to a health start after calving
  3. PREG – confirmed pregnant from a single service, and with no subsequent abortions
  4. DRY – dried off while healthy, and with no health problems throughout her lactation

How does Alta CONCEPT PLUS help make more 4-EVENT COWS?

Events 2 and 3, as listed above, both rely on several factors related to genetics and reproduction. One sure way to create more cows that will be confirmed pregnant after just one insemination is to use sires with the highly coveted, high fertility Alta CONCEPT PLUS rating.

Alta CONCEPT PLUS is the industry’s most accurate sire fertility evaluation, and it’s exclusive to Alta.

That means it’s the most reliable way for you to know the individual sire fertility for every Alta bull. It’s based on real pregnancy check results and accounts for all factors that can affect how well a bull creates pregnancies. And since the data only comes from the most progressive, large dairies like yours, you can have full confidence that Alta’s CONCEPT PLUS rated sires will help you create more pregnancies on your dairy.

Fewer services for more pregnancies!

If you’re using conventional semen in your breeding program, then the Alta bulls rated as CONCEPT PLUS high fertility sires will give you a 2%-5% conception rate advantage over an average conventional sire.

When sexed semen is part of your breeding strategy, then Alta’s 511 CONCEPT PLUS high fertility sexed bulls are the ones you’ll want to use, because they will help you achieve a 4%-9% conception rate advantage over any average sexed bull.

Sire fertility = profit

Cow 5677 is not only an Alta 4-event cow. She’s a profitable cow. Whenever it takes just one service to create a pregnancy, you know your reproductive program is saving time and money and giving you peace of mind.

Using Alta’s high fertility CONCEPT PLUS sires improves your odds at creating a pregnancy on every service, on every cow. Regardless if you choose conventional and/or sexed semen as part of your breeding strategy, you can make the most of your genetic investment and create pregnancies with confidence.

When you use a group of Alta’s highest fertility CONCEPT PLUS conventional high fertility sires, or the highest fertility sexed Alta bulls, designated as 511 CONCEPT PLUS, you will create more Alta 4-event cows in your herd – just like 5677.

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Genetics in the making of an Alta 4-EVENT COW

One of the best ways to create more four-event cows for your future herd is to focus your genetic selection on health traits like Productive Life (PL).

When you work with your trusted Alta advisor to put enough emphasis on PL in your customized genetic plan and strategy, it doesn’t only mean that you’ll create more old cows. PL predicts which cows will be toughest, healthiest and easiest to manage.

How does a genetic plan relate to our Alta 4-event cow, 5677?

If you remember cow 5677, she is a second lactation cow living on a 1500-cow dairy – and she’s an Alta 4-event cow.

We also know that her sire is 11HO11499 AltaMEGLO. As of April 2019, AltaMEGLO’s PL value was +5.6. That means cow 5677 is expected to be productive in the herd for 5.6 months longer than her herdmates sired by a bull with a 0.0 PL value.

This actual measure of PL is not calculated until after a cow leaves the herd. However, we can look at other events in a herd’s management records to see if higher PL bulls like AltaMEGLO actually create healthier and more trouble-free cows.

Table 1 below breaks down the events within the herd where cow 5677 lives. It includes all animals with known Holstein sire ID’s. Based only on each animal’s parent average for Productive Life, this shows the real difference in the health events between cows with a pedigree for high PL, and cows with a pedigree for low PL.

This graph illustrates the real number of events, recorded on this farm’s herd management software program. Keep in mind, management is consistent throughout the herd, and no preferential treatment is provided for any given cow.

The table clearly shows the high PL cows had fewer issues after calving and throughout their entire lactation. High PL cows had fewer abortions, and fewer of them were coded as ‘do not breeds’ (DNB). The high PL cows also had fewer cases of mastitis, metritis, and other illness – all of the costly issues that cause headaches for dairy owners and managers. Because the high PL cows had fewer health problems, that also meant fewer of those cows were culled involuntarily.

Compare those results to cow 5677. We know that, because she’s an Alta 4-EVENT COW, she had none of those events. Her sire, AltaMEGLO is at +5.6 for sire PL – even higher than the average of the high PL group. It’s evident that aspect of her genetic makeup contributes to her status as an Alta 4-event cow with no health issues.

Customize your genetic plan & strategy to create more Alta 4-event cows

Consider how much smoother your days would go if you didn’t have any mastitis or metritis to deal with, and no IVs to give. A herd full of Alta 4-event cows like 5677 don’t require costly treatments, and they don’t drop in milk production due to those health concerns.

Any cow that has only the following four events in a lactation, is saving you time, money and headaches.

  1. FRESH – with a healthy calf and no metabolic issues
  2. BRED – serviced just one time, which means one unit of semen
  3. PREG – confirmed pregnant from a single service, and with no subsequent abortions
  4. DRY – dried off while healthy, and with no residual issues from throughout her lactation

 

Work with your trusted Alta advisor and select for Productive Life within your customized genetic plan. That way, you’ll be sure to create more 4-EVENT COWS like 5677 as future replacements for your herd.

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