Performance trends in Michigan dairy herds

DairyMetrics program is a useful benchmarking tool for evaluating dairy herd performance.

When reviewing a herd’s performance records, dairy herd managers and their consultants may wonder how the herd compares to other dairy herds in the state and elsewhere. A comparison to herds that are managed similarly can be referenced when developing performance goals. This article provides information about Michigan dairy herds based on two management characteristics: production and herd size.

The DairyMetrics program available from Dairy Records Management Services (DRMS) was used to summarize performance data for Michigan dairy herds in the Dairy Herd Information (DHI) system. For Table 1, herds were divided into three groups based on rolling herd average for milk (< 22,000 lb, 22,000 - 25,999 lb, and > 26,000 lb). The herds are grouped in Table 2 by herd size (< 100 cows, 100 – 249 cows, and > 250 cows). The items in each table are from the DHI-202 Herd Summary report and include key indicators of overall herd management. Data presented in each table are the averages for each key indicator.

Table 1. Averages of Michigan DHI Herds by Rolling Herd Average Milk Levels

Key Indicator

All   Herds

RHA   Milk

<   22,000 lb.

RHA   Milk

22,000   to 25,999 lb.

RHA   Milk

>   26,000 lb.

Pregnancy   Rate (yr)

17

13

17

21

Days   to First Service

91

105

88

80

Projected   Days Open

153

178

148

132

% First   Services Successful

43

51

41

38

%   Heats Observed (yr)

45

31

45

57

Age   at First Calving

26

27

25

24

%   Bred to AI Sires

79

66

80

92

Percentile   Rank of Proven AI Sires

54

42

57

64

%   Cows Dry 40-70 Days

68

55

69

81

%   Cows Left Herd

38

39

36

37

Average   SCC Score

2.2

2.5

2.1

1.9

Average   SCC (1,000)

187

235

176

144

Peak   Milk – First Lact.

81

68

82

92

Peak   Milk – Second Lact.

102

84

104

119

Peak   Milk – Third+ Lact.

110

90

112

128

Rolling   Herd Avg. Milk lb.

23,493

18,948

23,991

27,958

Number   of Herds

532

176

199

157

Average   Herd Size

317

123

332

51

** SCC=Somatic Cell Count
**DairyMetrics summaries based on DRMS data available on June 27, 2012.




Table 2. Averages of Michigan DHI Herds by Herd Size Levels

Key Indicator

All   Herds

Herd   Size

<   100 Cows

Herd   Size

100-249   Cows

Herd   Size

>   250 Cows

Pregnancy   Rate (yr)

17

14

16

20

Days   to First Service

91

106

92

77

Projected   Days Open

153

179

151

131

% First   Services Successful

43

47

45

37

%   Heats Observed (yr)

45

34

42

56

Age   at First Calving

26

27

26

24

%   Bred to AI Sires

79

77

75

86

Percentile   Rank of Proven AI Sires

54

47

54

60

%   Cows Dry 40-70 Days

68

60

67

76

%   Cows Left Herd

38

39

37

36

Average   SCC Score

2.2

2.5

2.1

2.0

Average   SCC (1,000)

187

229

180

156

Peak   Milk – First Lact.

81

72

82

87

Peak   Milk – Second Lact.

102

90

103

113

Peak   Milk – Third+ Lact.

110

97

110

121

Rolling   Herd Avg. Milk lb.

23,493

20,650

23,794

25,810

Number   of Herds

532

158

207

167

Average   Herd Size

317

62

163

750

** SCC=Somatic Cell Count

**DairyMetrics summaries based on DRMS data available on June 27, 2012.

Trends – Production Groups

Several general trends were observed across the production groupings.

  • The highest production group has the     lowest average days open and the highest pregnancy rate. In addition, this     group has the lowest days to first service and the highest percentage of     heats observed. However, the highest average for percentage of successful     first services was in the lower production group.
  • The highest production group has the     lowest average somatic cell count (144,000 SCC).
  • Higher producing herds use a higher     percentage of AI sires with a higher percentile ranking for Net Merit.
  • Larger herd size average is associated     with the highest production group.

These trends should not be considered a cause-and-effect relationship between milk production and the other key indicators. More likely management factors that positively influence milk production also have a positive impact on other aspects of herd performance.

Trends – Herd Size Groups

Some trends also existed across the groupings based on herd size.

  • The larger herds tended to have more     desirable reproductive performance. The average days open was lowest in     the largest herd category. The largest herd category also had the highest     average pregnancy rate, highest percentage heats observed, and lowest days     to first service. However the highest percentage of successful first     services was in the lowest herd size category.
  • Average somatic cell count was lowest in     the largest herd size category.
  • The larger herds tended to have higher     rolling herd averages for milk yield, a trend that has existed for a     number of years. It should be noted that there was a significant range in     production in each herd size category. In fact, the highest producing herd     in each size category had a rolling herd average for milk above 30,000 lbs.

The items in both tables are indicators of herd performance only. Other business management criteria would be considered when evaluating the financial status of the herd.

Using DairyMetrics

DairyMetrics is a benchmarking tool for dairy farm performance evaluation. Herd managers and their herd consultants can compare their own herds to a group of DHI herds that meet the criteria that they select (cohort herds). The cohorts can be selected based on parameters within five categories (general, production, udder health, reproduction and genetic information). Herds from other states that are processed by DRMS also can be included in comparisons.

The reports available through DairyMetrics contain information about the specific herd in addition to the averages, standard deviations, minimums and maximums for the cohort herds. They also give the percentile ranking for each herd performance parameter in comparison to the cohort group.

More information about the DairyMetrics program is available from DRMS or your DHI service affiliate.

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