What if you could predict how healthy and profitable your heifers will become? What if you had insights into their genetic risk for costly dairy industry diseases such as mastitis, lameness and metritis before they entered the milking herd?
If you do some online research of “Dairy Wellness Profit” information, Google leads you to the Zoetis website that begins by asking those two very important questions. And really, what dairy producer wouldn’t want to know the answers to both? Technology can be a bit overwhelming, and we’ve certainly seen so many changes in bull proofs over the last five years that they can make your head spin if you’re not careful. Because we’re sometimes resistant to change, and because, frankly, we get tired of seeing SO many continual “improvements” to sire summaries, I believe a lot of people (myself included) wrote off the Dairy Wellness trait concept. Maybe I did that too soon?
CLARIFIDE Plus is the first commercially available, U.S.-based genomic test that offers predictions for extremely costly herd health issues, including:
I grew up on a registered Holstein farm on the east coast, and I can tell you that as a 4-Her and a show enthusiast, those things didn’t matter to me some 30 years ago. But that was then, and while there are still many fans of the showring out there, we can all concede that that hobby doesn’t pay the bills. These DWP measurements focus on things that directly affect profitability.
In fact, here are some other things I learned when I dug a little deeper to write this story. According to information posted on clarifideplus.com:
* Six new genetic wellness trait predictions (see list above) were developed from millions of dairy cows in U.S. commercial herds, using cutting edge genetic evaluation methodology to achieve an average reliability of 50% for the six traits in young animals.
* With the use of DWP$, producers can potentially make approximately $55 more profit per selected female over 10 years using a 15% culling selection strategy, even when test cost is higher than a NM$-based ranking.
* There are nearly 62,000 markers, with 61,000 reported to the Council on Dairy Cattle Breeding for additional genetics conditions, traits and/or parentage
My take-aways from all this are pretty simple – it’s reliable, it makes money and there’s a lot of work that has gone into seeing these predictions become reality.
When doing a bit more research, the cost of dealing with each of the six diseases can be staggering, as you know. In a chart published by Progressive Dairyman in 2013, they showed losses to the following, and that was four years ago:
cost/case cost/100 cows/lactation
Mastitis $208 $8,320
Lameness $360 $13,680
Retained Placenta $259 $3,885
Displaced Abomasum $391 $1,955
Ketosis $181 $1,810
and for Metritis, Hoard’s Dairyman calculated a cost of $304-354 per case in an article published in 2010.
With some new traits introduced in the past, they impacted a small number of sires, meaning a producer would almost always sacrifice genetics in order to benefit from this latest, greatest trend. However, with DWP$, All West is very excited to not only offer many DWP$ specialists, but really really good choices as well!
Select Sires has quite an impressive Top 10 Super Samplers for DWP$
1. Totally 1227
2. Frazzled 1222
4. Casper 1196
5. House 1172
6. Kennedy 1166
7. Famous 1165
8. Jared 1161
9. Kite 1160
10. Cade 1158
Three bulls we think are pretty enticing from their balanced proof to their affordable price to their sire stacks are TOTALLY, RIO and HOUSE.
#1 DWP$ Super Sampler at Select Sires who’s active and +220WT$
Modesty x VG-87 Kingboy x Uno
+1515M +917NM +2.72T 2830GTPI
plus components, plus DPR, 6.2CE and 8.6PL
+2.74 UDC and 2.1 Livability
Franchise x Kingboy x Uno from Oakfield Corners
+1462M +968NM +1.77T 2835GTPI
plus components, plus DPR, 4.8CE and 10.6PL
A2A2 and 2.65SCC
Hang-Time x VG-87 Jacey x Uno
+1203M +861NM +2.89T 2830GTPI
plus components, plus DPR, 7.3CE and 8.3PL
Mark Kerndt, Sire Analyst & Director of the ART Program at Select Sires looks at Dairy Wellness Profit traits quite a bit, and presented some of his thoughts at the Select Sires National Sales Conference this past fall. Included in his slide deck were some good facts that are listed below. He also reminded attendees that “as producers, we know we will have less and less antibiotics available to us in animal agriculture in the future, so if we can improve the health of our animals through genetics, it only makes sense to put some selection toward those traits as well.”
When looking at the individual Wellness Trait measurements, keep in mind that the average is 100.
You’ll get faster results by focusing specifically on the top goal you want to improve.
There’s a lot of information packed into the DWP index!
There’s a ton more information on the subject of Dairy Wellness that you can find at the clarifideplus.com site. At Select Sires, we are thrilled to provide the highest number of choices for member/owners to make profitable, genetic decisions that result in faster return on investment.
We are aware that the Council on Dairy Cattle Breeding will be incorporating these types of traits into their official evaluations in April 2018, so while the actual numbers might not line-up exactly with the system that Zoetis has put into place early on, we can all agree that these types of traits are ones that need to be measured and focused on to make healthier cattle in the future.
If you haven’t talked to your All West rep lately about DWP$ options, maybe now’s the time to ask!