Newsletter – 2019 – October

President's message

From the DCRC President’s Desk
By Glaucio Lopes

Will I see you at the DCRC Annual Meeting? I sure hope so. For anyone involved in dairy cattle reproduction, this is a “must attend” event. While much of the meeting revolves around enhanced reproduction strategies, we cover every aspect of dairy management that affects repro performance – from employee management to nutrition, from dry and fresh cow performance to fertility programs, from high-end technology to cow comfort, and from herd health to cow welfare.

When planning for DCRC’s annual “main event,” we focus on one clear goal. How can we help our participants go back home and apply strategies they learned at the DCRC Annual Meeting for better production and reproduction performance? And by inviting experienced speakers that deliver both novel and practical information, attendees go back home with more tools in their toolbox to help them and/or their clients succeed.

This year’s DCRC meeting features topics that will help the dairy industry build a sustainable future. With DCRC members meeting in Pittsburgh – the city with the world’s most bridges – several of the presentations will strive to build bridges between producers, advisers and consumers, and close gaps that inhibit dairy cattle reproduction success.

Presentation titles and presenters for this year’s DCRC Annual Meeting are:

  • Heifer management: How to use sexed semen, Kevin Ziemba, STgenetics
  • Sharing the judicious use of antibiotics story, Katie Mrdutt, Food Armor Foundation
  • Animal welfare: Critical for the cow, the producer and the consumer, Jennifer Van Os, University of Wisconsin-Madison
  • Maximizing fertility while minimizing timed AI (artificial insemination) use, Luis Mendonca, Kansas State University
  • Repro programs that protect human and animal well-being, Robert Hagevoort, New Mexico State University
  • Optimize repro performance with activity monitoring systems, Ronaldo Cerri, University of British Columbia
  • Preparing heifers for improved reproductive efficiency and production, Robert Corbett, Dairy Health Consultation
  • Heifer repro: AI at estrus, timed AI or both? Julio Giordano, Cornell University
  • Facilities that enhance cow comfort and profitability, Dan McFarland, Penn State Extension
  • Honoring the top reproduction herds: Round table discussion, moderated by Corey Geiger, Hoard’s Dairyman
  • Economic and genetic performance of IVP (in vitro-produced) embryo transfer and AI, Albert De Vries, University of Florida
  • Beef x Dairy: Fad or sustainable future? Victor Cabrera, University of Wisconsin-Madison
  • Genetic markers provide fertility clues, Joseph Dalton, University of Idaho
  • How gene editing could be used in dairy breeding programs, Alison Van Eenennaam, University of California, Davis
  • Data organization yields positive returns, Mark Kirkpatrick, Zoetis
  • Create a culture of compliance for repro programs, King Smith, Select Sires
  • Overcoming consumer barriers via dairy cattle genetics, moderated by Peggy Coffeen, Progressive Dairy, and panelists Dan Rice, Prairieland Dairy, and Dennis Savaiano, Purdue University

Additionally, the preconference seminars provide more learning opportunities. Wednesday morning’s presentations – sponsored by Merck Animal Health and Arm & Hammer Animal and Food Production – feature Paul Fricke, University of Wisconsin-Madison, who will address applications of human chorionic gonadotropin for dairy cattle on Merck’s behalf, and Reinaldo Cooke, Texas A&M University, who will discuss essential fatty acid impact on repro and health, on Arm & Hammer’s behalf.

To help boost veterinarian (work for a veterinary clinic) and dairy producer attendance, DCRC is providing ten $200 travel stipends. The only requirement is that they are first-time attendees. (DCRC Herd Repro Award winners are not eligible for a travel stipend.) If you would like to secure a $200 travel stipend, contact JoDee Sattler ( Travel stipends are awarded on a first-come, first-served basis.

Sponsorship opportunities remain for the 2019 DCRC Annual Meeting. If you’d like to learn about sponsoring this year’s meeting, please contact me (, Kristy Mach ( or Den Gardner (

For more information about this year’s meeting venue – Pittsburgh Marriott City Center – click here. DCRC has negotiated a room rate of $164/night (plus taxes). The group rate available until 3 p.m. on Oct. 21, and is subject to availability. Go to: to book your room.

For veterinarians, the American Association of Veterinary State Boards RACE committee approved the DCRC Annual Meeting for 18 continuing education (CE) credits (14 maximum). This is a great opportunity for bovine practitioners to fulfill CE requirements. In addition, the American Registry of Professional Animal Scientists (ARPAS) approved the DCRC Annual Meeting for up to 12 CEs.

I look forward to seeing you in Pittsburgh!

Research Summaries

Effects of recombinant bovine interleukin-8 treatment on health, metabolism, and performance of dairy cattle II: Postpartum uterine health, ketosis, and milk production

Cow and CalfPostpartum uterine disease reduces milk production and reproductive efficiency, and increases the risk of culling in dairy cows. A contributing factor is the impairment in neutrophil function during the peripartum period. Several factors that contribute to this reduced neutrophil function include an increase in estradiol and cortisol blood concentrations, nutrient deficiencies, and reduced migration ability. Interleukin-8 (IL-8) is a proinflammatory cytokine that serves as a chemoattractant to neutrophils and can activate the neutrophil phagocytic and killing activity. In these two studies, Zinicola et al. (2019) evaluated the effects of administering different doses of a recombinant IL-8 (rbIL-8) within 12 h of parturition on the incidence of retained fetal membranes (RFM), puerperal metritis and endometritis, and milk production.

Study 1

Treatments: Primiparous and multiparous cows were randomized to receive:

  • Control: 250 ml of saline solution, intrauterine, within 12 h postpartum (CTR; n=67)
  • Low dose rbIL-8: 11.25 µg in 250 ml of saline solution, intrauterine, within 12 h postpartum (L-IL8; n=80)
  • High dose of rbIL-8: 1,125 µg in 250 ml of saline solution, intrauterine, within 12 h postpartum (H-IL8; n=66)

Study 2

  • Control: 250 ml of saline solution, intrauterine, within 12 h postpartum (CTR; n=41)
  • Low dose rbIL-8: 0.14 µg in 250 ml of saline solution, intrauterine, within 12 h postpartum (L-IL8; n=41)
  • Medium dose rbIL-8: 14 µg in 250 ml of saline solution, intrauterine, within 12 h postpartum (M-IL8; n=41)
  • High dose of rbIL-8: 1,400 µg in 250 ml of saline solution, intrauterine, within 12 h postpartum (H-IL8; n=41)


  • Treatment with rbIL-8 had no effect on RFM.
  • Treatment with rbIL-8 significantly reduced the incidence of puerperal metritis in multiparous cows but not in primiparous cows.
  • Treatment with rbIL-8 had no effect on the incidence of clinical endometritis.
  • Treatment with rbIL-8 produced more milk, fat-corrected milk, and energy-corrected milk yield compared with control cows.

In conclusion, treatment with rbIL-8 decreased the incidence of puerperal metritis in multiparous cows but had no effect on RFM and clinical endometritis, and treatment with rbIL-8 was associated with an increase in lactation performance. Further research on lactating cows is needed to evaluate rbIL-8 effects on the mammary gland.

Access the paper:

Long-term effects of postpartum clinical disease on milk production, reproduction, and culling of dairy cows

Early postpartum cows are highly susceptible to health disorders due nutritional deficit and resulting postpartum metabolic disorders accompanied by impaired immune cell function. However, long-term consequences of early postpartum clinical diseases after clinical resolution and whether these consequences are limited to reproduction or other biological systems are still unknown. Understanding the complete consequences and duration of the detrimental effects of postpartum clinical diseases is crucial to measuring their impact on the profitability and sustainability of dairy farms, and providing valuable information for management decisions related to culling and breeding. Therefore, Carvalho et al. (2019) conducted two retrospective studies – examining data of 7,500 lactating cows from a single herd with the objective to evaluate the long-term effects of clinical disease during the early postpartum period on milk production, reproduction, and culling of dairy cows through 305 days in milk (DIM).


Study 1: Data regarding health, milk production, reproduction, and culling of 5,085 cows were analyzed, and cows were classified according to incidence of clinical problem (metritis, mastitis, lameness, digestive problem, or respiratory problem) during the first 21 DIM (ClinD21).

Study 2: Data regarding postpartum health and 305-day yields of milk, fat, and protein were collected from 2,415 primiparous cows that had genomic testing information. Genomic estimated breeding values (EBV) were used to predict 305-day yields of milk, fat, and protein.


  • During 305 days of lactation, cows that had ClinD21 produced, on average, 410 kg less milk, 17 kg less fat, and 12 kg less protein, compared with cows that did not have ClinD21 (NoClinD21).
  • Pregnancy rate through 305 DIM was less in cows that had ClinD21 [adjusted hazard ratio (AHR)=0.81].
  • Cows that had ClinD21 presented lower rates of pregnancy per breeding for breedings performed before 150 DIM, reduced numbers of calving per breeding for breedings performed before 200 DIM, and greater number of pregnancy losses for all breedings performed through 305 DIM.
  • Culling rate from calving through 305 DIM was higher in cows that had a single ClinD21 (AHR=1.79) and in cows that had multiple ClinD21 (AHR=3.06), which resulted in a greater proportion of cows leaving the herd by 305 DIM (NoClinD21=22.6%; single ClinD21=35.7%; multiple ClinD21=53.8%).
  • Genomic EBV and predicted yields of milk, fat, and protein did not differ between cows that had ClinD21 and those that did not have ClinD21. In contrast, the observed 305-day yields of milk, fat, and protein were reduced by 345, 10, and 10 kg, respectively, in cows that had ClinD21, compared with cows that did not have ClinD21.

The authors concluded that clinical disease diagnosed and treated during the first 21 DIM has long-term negative effects on lactation performance, reproduction, and culling of dairy cows, which contribute to detrimental consequences of health problems on sustainability of dairy herds. Multiple clinical cases diagnosed during the first 21 days postpartum had additive detrimental effects on milk production, reproduction, and culling through 305 DIM. The results of this study indicate that the detrimental consequences of treated, early-postpartum disease extend for months after resolution of clinical symptoms.

Access the paper:

Quantifying the effects of mastitis on the reproductive performance of dairy cows: A meta-analysis

Almost three decades ago, a relationship between mastitis incidence and decreased reproductive performance was suggested, using mostly observational studies and qualitative literature reviews. In this study, Dolecheck et al. (2019) conducted a meta-analysis, combining data from multiple studies to quantitatively characterize the effects of mastitis on reproductive performance and to identify factors that interact with this relationship. Criteria for inclusion involved publications that evaluated the effects of naturally occurring clinical or subclinical mastitis on any measure of reproductive performance in dairy cattle, specifically evaluating the relationship between mastitis and:

  • time to first service
  • days open
  • services per conception
  • pregnancies per insemination at first service
  • pregnancy loss

Exclusion criteria included language other than English, non-peer-reviewed research, and papers that did not quantitatively report how mastitis incidence affected reproductive performance outcomes of dairy cattle, leaving 29 publications that contributed to this meta-analysis,


  • Cows with mastitis pre-first insemination had, on average, an additional 13 days to first service compared with cows with no mastitis.
  • Cows with clinical mastitis pre-first insemination had, on average, an additional 22 days open compared with cows with no mastitis.
  • Cows with clinical mastitis at pre- or post-insemination had an additional 32 days open compared with cows with no mastitis.
  • Cows with subclinical mastitis at pre- or post-insemination had an additional 20 days open compared with cows with no mastitis.
  • Cows with mastitis pre-insemination had 0.46 more services per conception than cows with no mastitis.
  • Cows with mastitis pre- or post-insemination had 0.72 more services per conception than cows with no mastitis.
  • Cows that experience mastitis have, on average, 0.84 times the risk of conceiving at first service and 1.81 times the risk of pregnancy loss during gestation than cows that do not experience mastitis.

In conclusion, the results from this meta-analysis indicate that there is a quantifiable association between mastitis incidence and reproductive performance outcomes in dairy cattle and highlight the importance of mastitis prevention – not only for milk production – but also because it could affect reproductive outcomes.

Access the paper:

Featured Column

Genomics: Valuable for registered breeders and commercial producers

Genomic ImageNot so long ago, the concept of genomic selection fell into the realm of science fiction. Today, this revolutionary dairy reproduction tool is commonplace. Genomic selection refers to selection decisions based on genomic-estimated breeding values. These genomic breeding values are calculated using genetic markers across the entire genome.

Francisco Peñagaricano, University of Florida assistant professor of genetics and genomics, addressed quantifying the benefits and strategies of dairy cattle genomic data at last year’s Dairy Cattle Reproduction Council (DCRC) Annual Meeting. He noted that young, genomic-tested bulls provide the vast majority of semen available to dairy producers around the world. On average, these bulls have greater predicted transmitting abilities (PTA) but lower reliability values than proven bulls.

Without the need to wait for phenotype data, genomic selection possesses significant potential to increase genetic gain by reducing generation intervals and increasing selection intensity and selection accuracy. It takes at least 4.5 years to progeny test [phenotype data] a potential elite bull, with most of the ensuing sons and daughters being born after the bull is 5.5 years old.) Using genetic markers across the genome (genotype data) to predict breeding values allows decision makers to select animals at a young age. Thus, this hastens genetic gain.

According to Garcia-Ruiz et al., 2016; and Wiggans et al., 2017, the rate of genetic progress for economically important traits can be approximately doubled using genomics. Genomic selection provides great benefits to purebred dairy cattle breeders and commercial dairy producers.

Given the superior numbers for genomic-tested sires and higher reliability for progeny-tested sires, here is Penagaricano’s advice regarding  the best breeding strategy for commercial dairy producers: “Most important, select sires based on PTA values,” said Peñagaricano. “Do not select or exclude sires based only on reliability. Use the value of reliability as a guide to decide how intensely you want to use a bull.” With this in mind, Peñagaricano recommends using genomic-tested sires heavily but manage risk by using a group of young bulls, rather than focusing on individual genomic-tested young sires.

Table 1 shows how the reliability of a group’s genetic merit (calculated as the average genetic merit) increases as more young bulls are included in the group. For example, if the REL (reliability) value of individual, young, genomic-tested bulls is 70 percent, then REL of the average genetic merit for a team of three young bulls is about 90 percent. If the group size increases to six or 12 young bulls, REL values for the group average between 95 percent and 98 percent.

Table 1. Change in the group’s genetic merit reliability as a function of the number of young, genomic-tested bulls in the group

Number of genomic-tested bulls in group

Reliability of group’s genetic merit










Beyond sire selection, genomic information provides valuable data on the female side. With herd management improvements and the use of gender-sorted semen, many dairies produce excess heifers. Thus, dairy managers can select their replacement heifers (based on superior genetics) and reduce the number of heifers they raise. Genomic testing, via the use of genetic markers across the genome to predict breeding values, allows users to identify and select heifers at an early age.

What are the “genetic odds” for no parent information vs. complete pedigree information vs. genomic information? When no parent information is available, reliability is 0.0. Reliability jumps to 0.40 when complete pedigree information is available. With genomic-predicted genetic merit, the calf’s reliability reaches 0.55 to 0.75, depending on the trait of interest and amount of pedigree data available.

Peñagaricano noted that a genomic prediction early in life is generally more reliable than the traditional PTA estimated using several lactation records on both the cow and her daughters. “Therefore, genomic testing allows us to make accurate selection (culling) decisions at an early age. These decisions are more reliable than those that can be achieved using pedigree information alone,” he said.

Beyond culling, genetically inferior heifers can be inseminated with beef semen to produce high-value crossbred beef calves. (Heifers inseminated with beef semen are removed as parents of the next generation.)

On the other hand, identifying superior heifers through genomics can be combined with advanced reproductive technologies to rapidly propagate these animals and generate superior replacements. For example, high genetic merit heifers can be used as donors in an in vitro fertilization program or an embryo transfer program. Alternatively, these superior heifers can be inseminated with gender-sorted semen from top sires.

To learn more about effective genomic-based breeding and management strategies, read Peñagaricano’s complete DCRC Annual Meeting proceedings paper by logging into the DCRC Members Only page on the DCRC website (

Featured Member

(Editor’s Note: For 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:

Fabio LimaFabio Lima
University of Illinois College of Veterinary Medicine
Urbana, Illinois
DCRC member since 2007

The assistant professor of theriogenology at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Fabio Lima’s role focuses on three primary areas:
1) equipping the next generation of veterinarians and scientists with knowledge and problem-solving skills;
2) providing excellent veterinary service for Illinois farmers; and
3) developing technologies and strategies that help improve health, production and fertility of dairy cows.

In addition, he provides clinical and didactic teaching activities that center on reproduction and dairy production medicine for veterinary students. His research program focuses on dairy cow reproductive physiology, antimicrobial stewardship and host-genome rumen microbiome interactions modulating milk production efficiency.

A native of Brazil and third-generation dairy farmer, Lima was born and raised on a small dairy farm in Muzambinho, Minas Gerais. Like some of his students, he milked cows in the morning before going to school.

Fast forward… He went on to pursue a Doctor of Veterinary Medicine degree. “During my veterinary training, I was fortunate to be mentored and inspired by Jose Luiz Moraes Vasconcelos, one of the leading cattle reproductive specialists in Brazil,” said Lima. “He was the ‘bridge’ that provided me with the opportunity to come to the United States.”

In 2004, Vasconcelos introduced Lima to Milo Wiltbank, a University of Wisconsin dairy science professor. “I spent the last six months of my veterinary training in Dr. Wiltbank’s laboratory. It was a phenomenal learning experience and the reason I decided to come back to the United State to pursue graduate training.”

Sustainability and reproduction

“Sustainability” is one of the reasons why Lima is interested in dairy cattle reproduction. “Reproduction, besides representing a fascinating field of science that helps us understand the origin of life, is pivotal to the dairy industry’s sustainability,” said Lima.

“Due to its multifaceted nature, dairy cattle reproduction integrates directly and indirectly with significant sectors of the industry, including breeding and genetics, embryo transfer, in vitro fertilization, pharmaceuticals, nutrition, activity monitoring systems and dairy management software,” he said. “The success of a reproductive program paves the way for farmers to achieve economic feasibility – allowing the lactation period to be within the interval of positive return over feeding cost.

“Although we have seen significant improvements in reproductive management in recent years, more than 50 percent of U.S. dairy herds still have suboptimal performance and need assistance from different segments of the dairy industry (listed above) to pursue continuous improvement.”

DCRC involvement varied

Twelve years ago, Lima attended his first DCRC Annual Meeting in Denver. Initially, he joined DCRC to advance his dairy knowledge and network through the annual meeting. Lima was an invited speaker for the 2013 DCRC Annual Meeting. Next, he joined the DCRC Education Committee and helped organize webinars and revamp DCRC’s reproductive management synchronization sheets.

Also, he wrote Research Summaries for DCRC’s newsletter. For the last 1.5 years, Lima has been active with the DCRC Strategic Planning Content Subcommittee, which is working to provide a series of new videos on the DCRC website.

Due to its “continuing education model,” Lima encourages experienced and novice service providers to join and get involved in DCRC. “DCRC promotes a forum for the discussion of strategies and novel technologies that can be implemented to optimize reproductive performance in dairy cows,” he responded. “Also, DCRC constantly delivers novel information and curates unbiased knowledge that is pivotal to educating professionals involved in the dairy industry’s sustainability.

Through DCRC – whether it’s the annual meeting, a webinar or website resources – Lima has gained considerable knowledge. He shared two of his key discoveries. “I learned how fertility programs – based either on timed AI (artificial insemination) alone, mixture of timed AI and AI at detected estrus, or AI after detected estrus – were being used all over the country to achieve outstanding 21-day pregnancy rates. I also learned how nutritional strategies could be pivotal in preventing health disorders and mitigating the negative impact of diseases on reproductive performance.”

Reaching more producers

While progress has been made, dairy cattle repro challenges remain. Lima said DCRC needs to reach more producers to achieve success in their businesses and engage more people who work in related fields, such as nutrition and veterinary care. “Up to this point, dairy producers and bovine practitioners have not yet become a large group within DCRC,” he said.

Looking back on his decade-plus experience with DCRC, Lima described DCRC as a pre-eminent group of researchers, veterinary practitioners and dairy producers, who recognize the challenges that declining fertility can create. “DCRC members help increase awareness and discuss strategies to overcome suboptimal fertility in dairy cows,” said Lima. “The group created an annual meeting to serve as a forum for disseminating strategies to improve dairy cattle health and reproduction.”

Additionally, DCRC’s website and newsletter provide access to curated information for professionals working in the dairy industry. “Improved content and meeting structure have occurred,” he said. “By creating webinars, for example, DCRC highlights some of the most critical advances in the field of bovine reproduction.”

Looking ahead, Lima predicts DCRC will offer a diversified portfolio of content that appeals to different generations of professionals and different professions within the dairy industry. He added, “DCRC will become the global leader of knowledge dissemination in the field, host an overseas meeting and create content in other languages, such as Spanish and Chinese.”

DCRC Webinar Series

Next DCRC Webinar Highlights Activity Monitoring Systems

Mark your calendar for the next Dairy Cattle Reproduction Council (DCRC) webinar – Use of Activity Monitors and Implications to Fertility (“Estro: Uso de Monitores de Atividade e Efeitos na Fertilidade”). Ronaldo Cerri, University of British Columbia (UBC) associate professor of animal reproduction and director of the UBC Dairy Education and Research Centre, will lead this webinar, scheduled for Oct. 23, at noon Central time. This webinar will be presented in Portuguese.

“The use of automated activity monitoring systems is growing rapidly,” said Cerri. “These are good tools available to dairy producers, but it’s important to set realistic goals for how they fit into a total herd reproduction management program.”

New research provides information regarding how to best work with activity monitors and considerations for purchasing a system.

During the webinar, Cerri will discuss the effectiveness of activity monitoring systems for estrous detection, compare activity monitoring to other options, set expectations for activity monitoring plans, and review optimal artificial insemination timing with activity monitoring.

DCRC’s highly regarded webinars offer access to high-quality information and interaction with industry experts to attendees from across the United States and around the world, all from the comfort of their farm, home or office.

Save this date and time for the final 2019 DCRC webinar:

  • Julio Giordano (presented in Spanish), Cornell University, presents “Reproductive Management Strategies to Optimize the Performance of Replacement Animals” (“Estrategias de Manejo Reproductivo para Optimizar el Desempeño de los Animales de Remplazo”) Dec. 10, at 2 p.m. Central time      

For more information about the DCRC webinars, e-mail Natalia Martinez-Patino, DCRC Education Committee chair, at: or e-mail DCRC at:

To register for a webinar, please visit and follow all prompts. As the webinar approaches, you will receive an e-mail with information on how to log in for attendance. If you are a DCRC member and cannot attend the ”live” webinar, you may access it (and all past webinars) at



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