Home Farm Equipment Dairy producers find new value streams for calf crops

Dairy producers find new value streams for calf crops


Dairies want pregnant cows to maintain their parlors stuffed and the milk vehicles rolling. Beef feedlots want dependable year-round sources of feeder cattle to maintain processing vegetation buzzing alongside. In the present day, with developments in genomics and animal science, each wants may be met in several methods.

The primary ever Beef on Dairy Symposium, a daylong occasion held along with the 2021 Beef Empire Days in Backyard Metropolis, Kan., brings dairy farmers and cattle producers collectively to study new methods so as to add value to dairy cow pregnancies.

Composite cattle

Using terminal cross breeding shouldn’t be new, explains Justin Waggoner, Kansas State College beef specialist. Using sexed beef semen on dairy cows has been in follow for a few years, however with extra genomic data accessible to dairy producers, the matings of beef bulls to dairy cows doubled from 2015 to 2019, he says.

CATTLEMAN TO CATTLEMAN: Dairy farmer Gary de Graaf, proprietor of Jer-Z-Boyz Ranch, Pixley, Calif., talks with Sam Palms, proprietor of Triangle H Feedyard, Backyard Metropolis, Kan., about pens of HerdFlex cattle ending on feed. Dairy producers and cattle feeders are working collectively to deliver extra value to calves from dairies within the beef market.

The Nationwide Affiliation of Animal Breeders says there are probably 1.6 million to 2 million beef-dairy crossbred calves that shall be born in 2021 — that’s simply 2% of all the calf crop of the U.S., Waggoner says. And it’s necessary to notice that these calves aren’t displacing any beef cattle; relatively, they’re displacing the dairy calves that might have already been getting into the meat manufacturing stream.

“The concept of terminal crossbreeding is not new, but what has changed, I think, is the focus within the dairy industry on really improving the quality of those crossbred animals,” he says. “Both from a carcass standpoint, and from a growth and genetics standpoint.” Beef-dairy crossbred calves can deliver $50 to $175 per head greater than purebred dairy calves.

Waggoner calls these calves the “2.0 version” of the beef-on-dairy cross. Because the follow turns into extra broadly accepted, it’s going to depend on data-sharing from feedyards again to the dairies the place these cattle originate.

The following step

Crossbred beef-dairy calves are one factor, however what if dairy producers began transplanting beef cattle embryos of their dairy cows to end in a purebred beef calf to market? That’s the query that Chris Sigurdson, common supervisor of the Minnesota Choose Sires Cooperative Inc., and others at Choose Sires began asking themselves a couple of years again.

0614F1-2123C-1540x800.jpgCOMPOSITE CATTLE: Within the feeding trial at Triangle H Feedyard, Backyard Metropolis, there’s a pen of beef-dairy crossbred cattle on feed alongside two pens of HerdFlex beef embryo transplant cattle. The composites had a median each day achieve of three.63 kilos, whereas the HerdFlex pens had common each day good points of 4.09 and three.13 kilos.

“We started to explore what might be the next opportunity for them because of their successes as dairymen and their ability to have extra pregnancies. What else could we do with those pregnancies? And that’s where the idea for HerdFlex was really founded to use embryo transfer [ET],” Sigurdson says.

Choose Sires has been the unique supplier of beef embryos produced by SimVitro, a Simplot firm for a few years. In March 2020, Choose Sires launched the model identify of HerdFlex beef embryos with SimVitro. The corporate began with a business trial on 5 Minnesota dairies, with calves ending at Triangle H Feedyard, Backyard Metropolis, Kan.

“We’re using modern embryo technology and dairy production systems’ existing assets,” Sigurdson says. “This is a beef production strategy designed to maximize calf value. Dairies contribute their extra pregnancies, calf-raising expertise and year-round production system.”

Sigurdson says the HerdFlex beef embryos are created utilizing Simplot genetic restoration oocytes harvested from business black Angus-based dams, that are then matched with Choose Sires Elite Confirmed Sires. The aim is a viable embryo that may be implanted in a dairy cow with dominant traits from the elite sires for calving ease, development, dry-matter consumption and extra.

Preliminary outcomes

In fact, all the provide chain wanted to find value in these animals to compensate the dairies for their funding in making these calves, Sigurdson says.

“Dairies don’t work unless cows get pregnant when they need to, and we can’t disrupt that,” he says.

Gary de Graaf, of Jer-Z-Boyz Ranch, Pixley, Calif., is without doubt one of the early adopters of the HerdFlex system. This household dairy has a herd of 5,000 Jersey cows, and it’s been utilizing gender-selected beef semen on its cows for a number of years with nice outcomes, he says. The fertility exceeded expectations, and it allowed the ranch to find value in pregnancies of their lower-end cows, whereas guaranteeing replacements from the highest finish of its herd genetics.

“Now, we have an Angus embryo that is going into our mature Jersey females,” de Graaf says. “I told my two sons at that point we’re not just milking cows anymore. We’re managing healthy uteruses.”

He says the ranch noticed being pregnant charges of ET cows at 39% within the scorching months within the San Joaquin Valley, when regular conception charges from AI can be round 26%. And, the ranch can get extra value out of the decrease finish of herd genomics with each dwell calf.

Preliminary harvest information from Choose Sires are that HerdFlex beef embryo calves can earn as much as 30 occasions greater than a day-old Jersey, and 6 occasions greater than a day-old Holstein calf; that will increase if the dairies decide to retain possession.

As for the feeders and packers, harvest data from the preliminary group of HerdFlex animals has them grading 22% Prime and 77% Selection, with a median each day achieve of simply over 4 kilos per day.

There’s a price to provide that HerdFlex calf to the dairy in comparison with a beef crossbred: an added $125 to $140. Nonetheless, in response to Choose Sires, these HerdFlex embryo calves return about $230 per calf of added value over their beef-dairy crossbred counterparts.

Sigurdson says the HerdFlex system is scalable, and it may be used along with a beef-dairy crossbreeding program as nicely.

“A 3,500-cow dairy can produce about 130 or more embryo calves per year,” Sigurdson says. “It’s not a replacement for using beef semen in dairies, Rather, it’s a mix of risk levels.”

Whether or not utilizing beef semen or implanting beef embryos, dairy producers now have extra choices open to them to create added value from each being pregnant. And feeders have a gradual provide of cattle with traceability and confirmed genetics that may carry out on the rail.

Choose Sires contributed to this text.



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