Canadian dairies raise the bar on reproduction


Reproduction performance on Canadian dairy farms is getting better but there’s still room for improvement.

That’s the message Mark Cason, EastGen Genetics reproductive solutions manager, shared with producers attending the Western Canadian Dairy Seminar at Red Deer, Alta., earlier this month. Carson’s insights are based on analysis of CanWest DHI herds greater than 150 cows from 2011 through 2017.

Overall, average age of first-calf heifers is a great story, says Carson. During the past decade producers have reduced first calf timing by almost 60 days. “That means less heifer inventory and we’re getting them calved in at a more optimal time, which has been a real positive for the Canadian dairy industry.”

A close look at the reproduction data shows slight increases across three key benchmarks — pregnancy, insemination and conception rates. The most noticeable change observed has come in insemination rates, up 4.0 percent. That’s not surprising, notes Carson, given producers’ increased investment in actively monitoring technology and the evolution of timed A.I. protocols, which are now more flexible and customizable for dairy herds. Pregnancy rates increased 2.5 percent while conception rates pushed 3.5 percent higher.

In this interview, Carson notes there is still lots of opportunity to increase reproduction performance. He also comments on the growing use of sexed semen and the role it’s playing in how producers manage their herds.

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