Read the Progressive Dairy Canada digital edition


From estrus and heat detection to genomics and sexed semen, discover the latest information to improve reproductive performance.


You are already familiar with maps and the four cardinal directions. You also know the combination of north, south, east and west you use determines how fast you get from point A to point B.

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The reasons for cows leaving a herd are many. According to the National Animal Health Monitoring System’s Dairy 2007 study, dairy farmers most often removed cows for reproductive problems (26.3 percent), followed closely by mastitis or udder problems (23 percent), and lameness or injury (16 percent).

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When analyzing national breeding indexes, we’ve learned one size does not fit all. In fact, indexes differ quite drastically to accommodate varying breeding philosophies.

While these indexes all aim to create a unified ranking for selecting genetics, the development of any index is challenging.

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There are several ways to get heifers bred quickly after they move into the breeding pen.

“Walk and chalk” is the strategy of choice for Vance Kells, owner of Circle Bar Heifer Ranch in Satanta, Kansas.

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Genomics offers new opportunities for female selection. Breed associations, some A.I. companies and other organizations involved in genetic testing now offer programs for the genotyping of females based on the collection of tissue samples such as hair, nasal swabs or blood.

These samples are sent to accredited laboratories, which use genotyping panels to obtain a genetic profile (called a genotype) for each tested animal. The genotypes are then used by the USDA or by CDN to produce genomic evaluations.

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Reproductive performance on dairy farms has improved in recent years. And that’s important, because poor reproductive programs carry a serious financial cost.

According to data from the University of Missouri, an increase in days open can be valued from $0.50 to $4.50 per day – a pregnant cow is worth $250 to $600 more than an open cow, and each percentage point increase in pregnancy rate (PR) is equal to roughly $35 per cow.

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