Newsletter – 2017 – December

President's message

From the DCRC President’s Desk
By Ronaldo Cerri

I would like to personally thank all who attended the 2017 DCRC Annual Meeting in Reno, Nev. Special thanks goes to the program committee —  led by Luis Mendonça (Kansas State Univerisy), Rafael Bisinotto (University of Florida) and Matt Utt (Select Sires) for the unbelievable program!

It was, as usual, a great meeting with lots of applied technical information and networking opportunities among dairy producers, veterinarians, industry , academia, students and others.  Nearly 250 people attended. Another special thanks to our loyal sponsors, who are key to making DCRC programs and the annual meeting happen stronger and better every year.

We greatly appreciate all the attendees who came from near and far in North America. We hope the program and information was up to your standards and that you will join us again next year for our 2018 annual meeting – Nov. 13-15, in Indianapolis. Please note that the core meeting days are again Wednesday and Thursday.

The reproduction awards program featured 82 nominations from the United States, Canada and Italy. It is always important to recognize the support and dedication of Corey Geiger from Hoard’s Dairyman in making the awards program a success – year after year.

A big thank you to Past President Todd Bilby (Merck) and the DCRC board and committees for their leadership and hard work over the past year in keeping the organization pointed toward our goals. Todd made a great effort this past year to transition the management and coordination of DCRC over to Gardner & Gardner Communications. This move has certainly brought more energy, ideas and dynamism to our organization that I am sure will translate into the quality of DCRC’s programs and annual meeting in the coming years.

We will continue to build on the excellent improvements from last year’s initiatives (more webinars, Spanish and Portuguese content, new website interface and more activities through social media). We will continue to add and improve technical and educational materials for use by our members. DCRC will look to more aggressively increase membership, meeting attendance and financial investments. Lastly, we hope to work on a new strategic plan for DCRC to create an even more solid path toward this council’s future.

Please help me welcome the following new DCRC board members and committee chairs:

  • Glaucio Lopes Jr., vice president
  • Jeff Stevenson, secretary/treasurer
  • Matt Utt, board member
  • Fabio Lima, education committee chair
  • Stephen Foulke, finance-sponsorship committee chair
  • Rafael Bisinotto, program committee chair
  • Joao Paulo “JP” Martins, membership committee chair

Don’t hesitate to reach out to any of these individuals if you have questions, suggestions or would like to volunteer your time or resources to DCRC.

Stay tuned for more information about future webinars, annual meeting details and DCRC activities by visiting Spread the word through social media; follow us on Twitter (@DCRCouncil) and Facebook. Your retweets and “likes” help extend the reach of DCRC’s information and programs.

2018 promises to be a great year for DCRC. Thanks again for your continued support!

Research Summaries

Association of immediate postpartum plasma calcium concentration with early-lactation clinical diseases, culling, reproduction, and milk production in Holstein cows

The authors investigated the association of postpartum plasma calcium (Ca) concentration with early-lactation disease outcomes, culling within 60 days in milk (DIM), pregnancy to first service, and milk production. The results are in press for the Journal of Dairy Science.

  • Authors measured total Ca 12 h after parturition and collected data on early-lactation disease, reproductive performance, culling, and milk production.
  • Authors built models to evaluate the association of Ca with the risks of disease, culling within 60 DIM, and pregnancy to first service.
  • Authors reported results different from previous studies. Calcium was not associated with the risk of retained placenta, metritis, clinical mastitis, or pregnancy to first service in primiparous or multiparous cows.
  • Authors mentioned that for multiparous cows only, higher Ca concentration tended to be associated with increased culling within the first 60 DIM.
  • Moreover, authors also reported that multiparous cows with Ca ≤ 1.85 mmol/L had an increased risk of being diagnosed with a displaced abomasum compared with cows with Ca >1.85 mmol/L.
  • Additionally, Ca was not associated with the amount of milk produced within the first 9 DHIA tests in primiparous cows; however, multiparous cows with Ca ≤1.95 mmol/L produced, on average, 1.1 kg more milk per day across the 9 DHIA tests than their multiparous counterparts with Ca >1.95 mmol/L.

In conclusion, authors indicated that plasma Ca concentration measured within 12 h of parturition is a poor predictor of early-lactation health outcomes. Authors suggested that caution because studies attempting to categorize subclinical hypocalcemia based on a single sample in the immediate postpartum period could misclassify the disorder.

Access the abstract

Puncture and drainage of the subordinate follicles at timed AI prevents twin pregnancy in dairy cows

The authors investigated whether fluid drainage from the subordinate follicles by ovum pickup procedures prevents the risk of twin pregnancy without reducing the fertility of the dairy cows. The results were published in the October 2017 issue of Reproduction Domestic Animals.

  • Authors reported that the largest follicle was considered the dominant follicle and that all subordinate follicles (≥10 mm) were drained in the Drainage group.
  • Authors said all drained follicles developed as a corpus luteum 7 days later.
  • Authors revealed that in the Control cows, the presence of two corpora lutea (55.1%) was lower than those in the Drainage cows (87.8%).
  • However, the incidence of twin pregnancies was 50% and 0% for the Control and Drainage groups, respectively.
  • Authors also reported that draining did not affect pregnancy rate.

In conclusion, the authors indicated that puncture and drainage of the subordinate follicles at insemination may eliminate the risk of twin pregnancies and reduce the risk of subsequent pregnancy loss by increasing the incidence of additional corpora lutea.

Access the abstract

Performance of automated activity monitoring systems used in combination with timed artificial insemination compared to timed artificial insemination only in early lactation in dairy cows

Prolonged postpartum anovulation and/or failure to detect heats are associated with lower insemination rate, increased days to first service, and decreased conception risk. To increase insemination rate, tools and technologies, such as timed artificial insemination (TAI) programs and automated activity monitoring (AAM) systems, have been developed and continuously refined. In this study, Denis-Robichaud, et al. compared reproductive performance of cows with an AAM system combined with a TAI program, with that of cows exclusively on a TAI program before 88 DIM. Cows (n=998) from 2 herds were randomly assigned to:

  • Double Ovsynch: Insemination to a TAI program (Double Ovsynch) at 85 DIM, or
  • AAM + Ovsynch: Insemination to estrous detection by AAM between 50 and 75 DIM, followed by a TAI program (Ovsynch) at 85 DIM for cows not detected in heat by the AAM system.


  • Pregnancy at first AI or pregnancy by 88 DIM was not affected by treatments.
  • Interactions of treatment and herd were found for pregnancy at first AI and pregnancy by 88 DIM.

In conclusion, insemination rate is important for the success of a reproductive management program that uses estrous detection. The performance of the combination of AAM-TAI programs or exclusively TAI programs might be affected by herd-specific variables, such as the type of AAM system used, proportions of primiparous, thin, anovular, and hyperketonemic cows, and/or the degree of compliance during the TAI programs.

Access the abstract


Featured Column

Communicating with consumers about antibiotic and hormone use

By JoDee Sattler, DCRC marketing & communications director

Editor’s note: During the 2017 DCRC Annual Meeting, Max and Linda Wenck of MorganMyers, a strategic communications firm based in Wisconsin that builds, protects and promotes great brands that help feed the world, addressed the challenge of gaining support among consumers regarding the use of modern agricultural practices and technologies.

Despite the science, some “foodies” like to bash hormones and antibiotics. Many dairy producers use these technologies safely and sustainably to foster animal welfare and produce wholesome, nutrient-dense foods.

Max and Linda Wenck tackled the challenge of protecting the use of scientifically proven animal care technologies, with a keen eye on consumer opinions and demands. “Drivers of consumer food preferences have shifted,” said Max. According to a Deloitte, Food Marketing Institute and Grocery Manufacturing Association study, taste, price and convenience are no longer the sole deciding factors when people buy food and beverages. Instead, roughly half of Americans surveyed add health and wellness, safety, social impact, experience and transparency when making purchases. These new considerations cut across all demographics, including age and income.

Hormones, antibiotics and animal welfare rank as some of consumers’ top food concerns today, according to Norwood and Murray, 2017. A study conducted by Purdue, Michigan State and Kansas State universities found that tail docking, antibiotic use and dehorning are viewed as the most detrimental to dairy cattle welfare.

Why do consumers find these practices distasteful? Max pointed to information access, non-governmental organization pressure and the Millennial mindset. Too often, anti-dairy perspectives far outnumber truthful dairy messages. “With the average consumer being three generations removed from a farm, they lack foundational knowledge about animal agriculture,” said Max. “They are easily swayed and influenced by emotional appeals.”

For example, the MorganMyers staff surprisingly discovered that consumers did not know that cattle, pigs and chickens get sick (just like people). “If you didn’t know that animals get sick, it might be hard to understand why farmers use antibiotics,” said Linda.

Toss this lack of scientific knowledge in with the desire for choices and production agriculture ends up with consumers asking for “clean food.” Food marketers believe in consumer research – constantly listening and testing ideas to see what might resonate.

So, if they hear “never-ever antibiotics” (for example) a few times, they launch a test line of new products with new claims. Before long, other marketers follow suit to protect their market share. “Quickly, there’s a lot of buzz in the marketplace as the dominos fall. The louder the noise, the more consumers ‘think’ they, too, should want this new product. In a matter of weeks, food marketers can essentially spec out and eliminate the use of a farm practice or tool. In effect, food marketers have become the de facto regulators,” said Linda.As the dairy industry strives to protect the use of antibiotics and hormones, consider a few lessons:

1) brand marketers can be powerful;

2) develop effective farm-to-table messages;

3) demonstrate your stewardship commitment;

4) map and build relationships now; and

5) timing is everything.

When it comes to Lesson 3, consumers basically want to know if a technology related to food is safe for them and their families. During consumer discussions, demonstrate your commitment to safety by outlining the steps and protocols you have in place to ensure consumer safety. From an industry perspective, share the recent U.S. Food and Drug Administration milk antibiotic residue sampling study, in which more than 1,800 random samples were collected across the nation’s dairy farms and confirmed the great stewardship farmers have when using antibiotics.

Lesson 4 revolves around people. “People trust people,” said Max. “It’s easier to open doors and

build relationships before a technology becomes an issue.” In the relationship building process, consider how you can translate a technology’s benefits into clear, simple reasons to believe the technology is needed today from a consumer’s perspective. Also, strive to “connect” on shared values.

To take a closer look at timing, consider antibiotics. “Antibiotics used for promoting growth are already past the triggering event and into regulation,” said Max. It’s called the Veterinary Feed Directive. “Fortunately, other medically important antibiotics in the ‘shared class’ are still in play.”

Dairy producers and allies can be most effective protecting a technology when it is in the emergence phase – when opinions are not formed and a solid case can be made from a neutral position to shape views about a technology. “We believe reproductive hormones, and some remaining antibiotics, are in the ‘emergence’ phase, which means opportunities still exist to protect these valued technologies,” said Max.

“To ‘win’ in today’s new normal, we need to be proactive, prepared and positioned for success,” said Linda. Here are some examples to share:

  • On-farm and processor antibiotic testing
  • Food Armor (HACCP [hazard analysis and critical control point] program created by the Wisconsin Veterinary Medical Association)
  • Veterinary-client-patient relationships
  • Adoption of FARM [Farmers Assuring Responsible Management] Version 3.0
  • Continuous improvements in disease prevention and earlier diagnosis

Reminder: how you share your message(s) is just as important as what you say. Similarly, it’s crucial to connect all messaging to shared values. “Let people know that you care and want to do everything you can to protect an important technology for human and animal use – for the long term,” said Linda.

Like medically important antibiotics, reproductive hormones are still in the emergence phase. To protect the use of these tools to enhance dairy cattle fertility, Max said to be proactive. Develop effective messages that answer these questions:

  • What are they and why do dairy farmers use them?
  • Are they safe for cattle? Is the milk/meat from cattle given reproductive hormones safe to eat?
  • What are the benefits of using reproductive hormones (for consumers and food companies)?
  • What impact do they have on the environment?
  • If the industry stopped using them, what impact would that have on dairy farmers and the food supply?

“Now is the time to develop and test the messages that not only satisfy food chain stakeholders but also resonate with consumers,” said Max. While no research is currently available to develop messages around reproductive hormone use in dairy cattle, Max suggested four message categories to consider:

  • Ensure food safety (cite research that reproductive hormones do not negatively impact human health – from milk or meat consumption).
  • Share consumer benefits. (How do these hormones help dairy producers deliver a consistent, quality and safe milk supply?).
  • Explain enhanced animal health and welfare.
  • Share sustainability benefits.

To get the most “mileage” from these messages, build you wall of support. Work with key opinion leaders that retailers, dairy brands, processors and consumers trust.

“The Dairy Cattle Reproduction Council has an opportunity to help the industry get positioned,” said Max. “You’re the experts. Equipped with the right messages, you have an opportunity to protect the use of reproductive hormones by helping retailers, brands and processors make better, more informed decisions.”

Featured Member

Editor’s Note: Each issue, DCRC interviews a member to learn more about his/her career, involvement with DCRC and thoughts about dairy cattle and reproduction. We encourage you to recommend someone for this feature by contacting JoDee Sattler at:

Featured Member

Luís G. D. Mendonça
Kansas State University
Manhattan, Kansas 66506
DCRC Member since 2013

I am an assistant professor, dairy extension specialist at Kansas State University. In 2013, I was hired to develop an innovative extension and research program to address issues facing the dairy industries in Kansas and the United States.

I was born and raised in São Paulo, Brazil. My first introduction to the dairy industry was in 1999. At that time, I was an international exchange student in a small town in southeast Nebraska. Helping my host father milk cows sparked my interest in pursuing a career that would involve dairy cattle.

In 2006, I earned my doctorate in veterinary medicine at Universidade Estadual de Maringá, Brazil. A year later, I worked in a private veterinary practice that specialized in reproductive management and technologies, such as embryo transfer and in vitro embryo production. I provided repro veterinary services to clients across Brazil and Bolivia. In 2008, I became a postgraduate researcher at the Veterinary Medicine Teaching and Research Center (VMTRC) in Tulare, Calif., where I worked in large dairy operations and was involved in different aspects of dairy production research. Before joining Kansas State University’s department of animal sciences and industry in 2013, I earned a master’s degree and completed a residency in dairy production medicine at the College of Veterinary Medicine, University of Minnesota, St. Paul, Minn.

My interest in dairy cattle reproduction started during my first internship in veterinary school. I worked at a large beef cattle operation that focused on using reproductive technologies to improve genetics of the Nelore breed. During this internship, I realized I wanted to dedicate part of my career to cattle reproduction. In 2008, while working at VMTRC, I was intrigued by the challenges of achieving high reproductive efficiency in dairy cattle. Thus, I headed down a path of conducting dairy cattle fertility research.

DCRC members enhance dairy cattle reproduction education and improvement through the council’s leadership, which includes renowned researchers and private industry professionals. Board members and committee chairs stay up to date on current dairy industry issues and relevant research projects.

I believe the discussions generated during DCRC annual meetings are pivotal for the industry to continue improving dairy cattle reproduction. Being a young professional, I am grateful for the dairy cattle reproduction advancements made during the past 11 years, which occurred partly because of the Dairy Cattle Reproduction Council (DCRC).

During Jeff Stevenson’s presentation at the 2016 DCRC Annual Meeting – “Ten Years of DCRC: Where We’ve Been and Challenges for the Next 10 Years” – I was impressed to see how DCRC influenced the dissemination of information throughout the years. DCRC has influenced the knowledge of industry professionals by presenting useful information to DCRC members and nonmembers. Stevenson’s presentation put in perspective DCRC’s impact of improving dairy cattle reproduction/fertility.

Despite my daily involvement in dairy cattle reproduction, I always learn from the top herds recognized at the DCRC Annual Meeting. A common theme for these herds is teamwork. I have learned that teamwork is of utmost importance for outstanding dairy cattle reproduction. Also, I have learned from DCRC events that dairy herds can achieve impressive reproductive efficiency, regardless of high milk yield.

Even though the dairy industry has made great strides, reproduction challenges remain. For example, summer heat stress hampers fertility – on U.S. dairies and in many parts of the world. Even though the scientific community has been focusing on this challenge, we still need practical and economical solutions. Considering that heat stress is a multifaceted problem, which has tremendous impact on cow health, I believe heat stress is the industry’s biggest reproductive challenge.

Reflecting on DCRC’s accomplishments, I feel this group has achieved many of the goals of those who created this organization. In 2005, influential and knowledgeable professionals (academics, allied industry, practicing veterinarians and producers) interested in dairy cattle reproduction created DCRC to assist the industry in improving dairy cattle fertility. These leaders channeled discussions and stimulated knowledge exchange. The organization has provided a wealth of information and delivered information to DCRC members in several formats, including webinars, newsletters and synchronization protocol sheets. In addition, DCRC annual meetings bring together individuals from diverse backgrounds to create healthy discussions and share up-to-date information. DCRC board members are constantly seeking new ideas, which helps the organization grow and continue its relevance.

Looking ahead, I predict that DCRC will increase its impact internationally. The council has proven to be a great resource for U.S. dairy professionals interested in reproduction by providing invaluable information. As the dairy industry grows in other countries, I believe DCRC will be an excellent resource for consultants, veterinarians, producers, industry professionals and academia worldwide.

Research Article

DCRC appreciates the generous support of its Platinum sponsors. One Platinum sponsor benefit is the opportunity to publish company-supplied research in a DCRC newsletter. Merck provided the following peer-reviewed research document.

“Extending the duration of the voluntary waiting period from 60 to 88 days in cows that received timed artificial insemination after the Double-Ovsynch protocol affected the reproductive performance, herd exit dynamics, and lactation performance of dairy cows.”

M. L. Stangaferro,* R. W. Wijma,* M. Masello,* Mark J. Thomas,† and J. O. Giordano*1
*Department of Animal Science, Cornell University, Ithaca, NY 14853
†Dairy Health and Management Services, Lowville, NY 13367


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