From heat and drought to resulting high feed prices, challenges abounded for the dairy industry in 2012. Summarized data from AgSource herds in 2012 compared to 2011 show that despite these challenges, improvements in herd management were achieved in almost all areas.
Each January, AgSource calculates benchmark values for the 80th, average and 20th percentile herds based on various criteria, including breed, herd size and production level. Analysis of over 3,300 AgSource Holstein herds shows that improvements from 2011 to 2012 were significant.
Production: Average daily milk production per cow for Holstein herds was up by 2 pounds. Average ME, 305 day milk production for 1st, 2nd and 3rd and greater lactation cows was up 378, 428, and 511 pounds, and peak milk production was up 1.1, 1.4, and 1.7 pounds respectively.
Average days in milk decreased by 6.8 days to 179.8 days. Most notably, the number of Holstein herds producing over 30,000 lbs. of milk increased from 64 to 87 (a 30% increase), and herds producing between 25,000 and 30,000 lbs. of milk increased from 727 to 778.
Udder Health: Weighted average SCC was down 26,000 cells to 237,000. The percent of cows above 200,000 SCC decreased by 1.8% to 22.5%, the percent of cows less than 100,000 SCC increased by 1.9% to 62%. Fresh cow new infection rates were down by 1.5% to 20.9% and dry cow cure rates were up by 2.4% to 65.8%.
Transition Cow Management: AgSource's patented Transition Cow Index® (TCI) values saw a big improvement. Herd average TCI values were up 214 points to 197. Research has shown that a 1,000 point improvement in TCI translates to $250 of additional revenue, due to higher production and reduced early lactation culling. The AgSource Fresh Cow Report, which includes TCI values, was updated in 2012 and allows the producer to better analyze transition and fresh cow management.
Reproduction: Even with the hot temperatures last summer, reproductive numbers also showed significant improvement in 2012. Average pregnancy rates improved by 1.8% to 14.3%, average days to first breeding decreased by 5.3 to 84.7, and average days open was reduced by 5.4 days to 139.1 days.
Genetics: Genetic values, based on Net Merit Dollars (NM$), were significantly higher. Average NM$ for cow's sires was $376 which is an increase of $27. The increase for heifers' sires' NM$ was $34.