In today’s world, dairy leaders are facing difficult challenges. Industry consolidation along with changes in consumer perception of dairy products makes the dairy industry very competitive. Understanding and responding to the main trends is paramount to the dairy operation’s success.
The DKC’s multidisciplinary team researches and brings insights and strategies that help dairy leaders to drive better business decisions. The DKC’s insights provide valuable knowledge in critical business areas such as nutrition and feeding, reproduction, housing, replacement, and management practices.
Newborn calves are immunodeficient. Colostrum provides them immunity, but it also can be a potential source of pathogen microorganism such as Mycobacterium avium ssp. paratuberculosis (Johne’s disease), Mycoplasma spp., Escherichia coli, and Salmonella spp.
In robotic dairies, cows can move through the pen freely or forced. With free cow traffic, cows decide when to enter the robot whereas with forced cow traffic, the producer set one-way traffic toward the robot by one-way gates or a sorting system in which cows are forced..
Extended lactation, the management practice in which the time of first insemination is delayed deliberately, increases calving interval and reduces the proportion of dry cows in the herd. This changes the lactation curve lengthening the descending phase. Therefore, average daily milk production is reduced in cows with extended lactations.
Traditionally, the methods used to detect estrus in dairy cows include visual observation, tail painting, tail chalking, rump-based pressure and scratch-off patches. In high-producing cows, the duration and intensity of estrus behavior is considerably lower than that in dairy cows of a few decades ago. In fact, standing estrus only occurs in 30 to 80% of lactating dairy cows. For this reason, precision dairy monitoring devices (tag, leg, collar) that measure cow activity, rumination, and feeding and lying behaviors are commonly used for estrus detection.
It has become a common practice to feed non-saleable milk to dairy calves. Non-saleable milk accounts for 1–4% of the total milk produced in the farm and this includes milk from antibiotic-treated cows along with colostrum from fresh cows and milk containing high somatic-cell-counts.
Insulin is an anabolic hormone that allows body cells to absorb glucose, amino acids, and fatty acids circulating in the blood and increases the synthesis of fat and protein. At the beginning of lactation insulin levels in blood are very low to support milk production.
Besides reducing erosion and improving soil health, double cropping winter annuals as forage crops in combination with corn is a common practice for increasing total forage yield per unit area of land in locations with long growing season. This strategy; however, is riskier in short seasons areas in which yield of one or both crops may be negatively affected.
Milk production is often wrongly considered to be a major source of the greenhouse gases (mainly methane) affecting climate change. Researchers from Switzerland evaluated whether increasing the productive life of cows reduces greenhouse gas emissions as it reduces emissions from the rearing of replacement heifers.
Milk ejection occurs when the myoepithelial cells that surround the mammary alveoli contract and milk is transported through the milk ducts into the cisternal compartment.
Using sex-sorted semen has become a common reproductive practice in the dairy industry. However, it has been shown that using sex-sorted semen reduces fertility which can be caused by the sorting process of the sperm altering the fertilizing capacity and viability of spermatozoa and/or the lower number of spermatozoa per straw.
Over the past decades, the Holstein breed has undergone the process of extreme selection which emphasized production and conformation rather than fertility and health. This, along with an increasing average inbreeding of Holstein cows, has promoted the use of crossbreeding in U.S. dairy farms.