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Herd Management, Genomics, Health Data 5 min read

Making Herd Management Data Work For You

Written by Ladd Muirbrook

I was talking to a dairyman recently who has done a great job with using genomic tools to improve the genetics in his herd. He told me he has a good problem, he has too many good heifers and needs to sell some of them that have lower genetic rankings.

We looked at some reporting tools in the DHI-Plus software, including looking at Parent Averages, as he wanted to look at newborns to determine quickly if he should keep them or not. This is a strategy some use to evaluate data on animals to make decisions. He figures he can save several thousand dollars this year toward the bottom line by deciding early what to do with some of these extra heifers—a good problem that can make money.

ID is the Key

His situation didn’t just happen this year or last year. It has been building for years based on solid management practices combined with excellent herd management records. Animals are identified quickly and it’s a priority. He uses RFID and records Rx treatments to know health issues in the herd.

ID is the key. Together we’ve spent time looking for animals with missing information to clean up anything that’s missing or incorrect.  Reports can be run with herd management software to quickly identify any calf that is missing either an official ID (840 RFID, registration or Bangs tag), Sire, or birthdate. If any of those three items are missing on an animal record, it will keep the animal from successfully getting a genomic or PTA index from CDCB.

Here are a few keys to successful herd management records:

  • Assign the official ID on the calf record early
  • Make sure birthdate, Sire and Dam are recorded
  • Record Rx treatments and Health databe specific and consistent
  • Review and run reports to find missing data often and then update missing data
  • Log RFID scans into the record of the animal to know the last scan (this can help when tracking down those “phantom” cows and cleaning up records)

Participate in Genetic Research

If you are taking a tissue sample for a genomic test on your animals, this data will be sent to a lab by the genomic nominator that can then be shared with the CDCB (Council on Dairy Cattle Breeding). Milk production records, ID, pregnancy status, current lactation data and other herd management data such as breeding dates, calving ease, and health records entered and stored in dairy’s herd management software can also be shared by the DRPC (Dairy Records Processing Center) on the dairy producer’s behalf, to CDCB.

This data is used by CDCB for genetic research to evaluate traits and develop PTA and genomic data to be used by dairy producers as they make breeding decisions. Contributing data to CDCB is easy, contact your DRPC rep and make sure all the data from your herd that you authorize, is being sent to CDCB for use in genetic research and evaluation. Your herd can benefit with better genetics and an improved bottom line.

Dairy producers who use Amelicor (DHI-Provo) as their DRPC to have their herd records processed for official DHIA records can click here to access the Amelicor Dairy Herd Record Release form. Fill this form out and we’ll be sure to send your authorized herd data to CDCB for genetic evaluation.

You could qualify for a discount on genomic testing and/or breed registration fees by authorizing your herd health data to be sent to CDCB. Check with your genomic nominator and breed registry for qualifying discounts.

Download the Herd Record Release Form

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