Reduce GHG emissions from the dairy industry – increase efficiency of production; A new approach – when to introduce fresh calved dairy heifers

Reduce GHG emissions from the dairy industry – increase efficiency of production
A new report from Foreign Agricultural Office (FAO), suggests that of the total global anthropogenic  (caused by humans) green house emissions (GHG), the dairy sector accounts for around four per cent of the emissions. A report in 2006 from FAO has stated that 18 percent of the emissions are from livestock sector.
The 4 percent emissions include all the emissions associated with the production, processing and transportation of milk products as well as emissions related to meat produced from animals originating from the dairy system.

Considering just global milk production, processing and transportation and excluding meat production, the sector contributes 2.7 per cent of global anthropogenic GHG emissions.

In 2007, the dairy sector emitted 1,969 MMT of carbon dioxide (CO2) equivalent, of which 1,328 MMT were attributed to milk, 151 MMT attributed to meat from culled dairy animals, and 490 MMT from calves from the dairy sector that were raised for meat. The report does not include emissions from Buffaloes. The CO2 equivalent emission is a standard measurement for comparing emissions of different GHGs.

The global average of GHG emissions per kilogram of milk and related milk products is estimated at 2.4 kg CO2 equivalent.

Methane contributes most to the global warming impact of milk, accounting for about 52 per cent of the GHG emissions in both developing and developed countries.

Methane from enteric (microbial) fermentation represents 20% and manure management 7% of the total CH4 emitted. Ruminants (beef, dairy, goats, and sheep) are the main contributors to CH4 production.
The ruminant animal is unique because of its four stomach compartments: reticulum, rumen, omasum and abomasum. The rumen is a large, hollow muscular organ where microbial fermentation occurs. It can hold 150 to 230 liters of material and an estimated 150 billion microorganisms per teaspoon are present in its contents. The function of the rumen as a fermentation vat and the presence of certain bacteria promote the development of gases. These gases are found in the upper part of the rumen with CO2 and CH4 making up the largest portion, 65.5% and 26.8% respectively.
Considering a fact that the world has 1300 million dairy cattle, each animal would contribute 1.02 MT of CO2. Based on the above, considering the numbers for 2006 as the Dept of AH, India had 8.2 million crossbred animals in production and 28.37 million non descript animals in production and the milk production was 19.244 MMT and 20.415 MMT respectively. The average milk production was 1.087 T/animal/year. The GHG emission would have been 37.37 MMT. As the a report from IFPRI, the estimated cow population in India would be 38.317 million and the production of milk attributed to cows would be about 41% of the total milk production, approximately 44.485 MMT, with an average milk production of 1.16 tons/animal/lactation. Based on the above, Indian cows contribute 39.09 MMT of CO2 equivalents, which in case of US would be only 10.2 MMT, based on the fact that the total population of cows in US is only 10 Million, with an average production of 10 tons/animal/year.
It is important to understand that and identify opportunities where in interventions can be made to reduce the emissions. 
As per a report from Penn State University, research has been conducted in Canada, Australia, Europe and the US on strategies to reduce methane emissions from dairy. The main focus has been on nutritional strategies, including feed higher efficiency feeds, good quality forages etc. Increasing the efficiency of production in which animals use nu
trients efficiently to produce milk can result in reduced CH
4 emissions. This can be accomplished by feeding high quality, highly digestible forages and grains including balanced rations.
Relatively new mitigation options have been considered and include the addition of such additives as probiotics, acetogens, bacteriocins, organic acids, and plant extracts (i.e. condensed tannins). For the long-term approach though genetic selection of cows that have improved feed efficiency (produce more milk/kg of feed consumed) is the only possibility
A new approach – when to introduce fresh calved dairy heifers
An important decision so as the older, resident animals are not aggressive and harm the new entrants in the family. A Report from Queens University, cites that the newly calved heifers should be introduced in the main herd after the second milking (afternoon milking) only. An early morning release may have a negative impact on fresh animals.
Heifers normally have a low social status and could be subjected to increased bullying by older resident females. This could be stressful to the animals and could affect the performance. It has been found that cows are naturally less socially active in the evening and hence less aggressive.
Also it is important that the fresh heifers are introduced 24-36 hours after the calving. 

Amit Sachdev
India Consultant
World Wide Sires
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Mastitis prevention and control – important for a profitable dairy operation

Mastitis is an inflammation of the mammary gland and the presence of an intra-mammary infection (IMI) is not required for mastitis to exist. However, the vast majority of mastitis cases are due to an intra-mammary infection caused by microorganisms. Over 100 different microorganisms have been shown to cause IMI but most of the economic losses are associated with species of staphylococci, streptococci, and the coli-form bacteria.

Major Mastitis-Causing Pathogens and sources of infection
Source and Control
Staphylococcus aureus
Lives in the udder or on wounds, milkers hands, Transferred to the teat by milking machine or milking practices. Can be controlled by hygiene, milking procedure and culling. Often resistant to treatment.
Streptococcus agalactiae
Lives in the udder and spreads from cow to cow, usually by poor milking practices. Can be controlled by strict hygiene and dry cow therapy. Can be treated successfully during lactation.
Environmental Streptococci
(Str. uberis or Str. dysgalactiae
Lives in the environment and can be controlled by good sanitation and hygiene, clean stall and environment management. Responds to lactation and dry cow therapy.
(E coli, Klebsiella)
Lives in manure, or dirty, wet and muddy areas; polluted water, dirty milking equipment. An environmental problem, which can be tackled by good sanitation and hygiene. Infections can occur between milkings and may also be caused by poor milking practices.

The infectious agents can be divided into two main groups – contagious and environmental including skin flora. The contagious agents spread from cow to cow primarily during milking while the environmentals infect cows mostly from their growth locations in the bedding and surrounding areas.
Despite considerable research on bovine mastitis the disease still remains an economically relevant problem to the dairy industry. Economic losses are estimated to be approximately $250 per cow per year in the U.S, which includes milk lost & discarded, veterinary costs, labor costs etc. Additional costs incurred by the processing industry in terms of reduced cheese yields, and the manufacture of products with reduced shelf life and consumer acceptance, which are normally not taken into account.
Mastitis is the most expensive disease in dairy cattle and good mastitis control program will enhance the profits on the farm. Farmers often think that a cow with clinical mastitis is the problem, and do not realize the full impact of mastitis on the herd. For every one cow that has clinical mastitis, studies have shown there will be 15 to 40 more cows in the herd with subclinical mastitis – and this often goes undetected.  >
If the Somatic Cell Count (SCC) is less than 200,000 cells/ml, then there is a likely hood that the problem does not exist, but the farmer still needs to be aware of mastitis and continue to implement practices that will keep mastitis out of the herd.  Herds that have a count of more than 300,000 cells/ml are considered to be problem herds and farmers should implement mastitis control measures. A herd where more than 3 cows per 100 cows show clinical mastitis over a month’s time has a costly mastitis problem because of significant lost milk production and reduced economic returns. Subclinical mastitis infections may cause permanent destruction of milk secretory cells which permanently lower milk producing ability.
Contagious infections are caused by S. aureus, Str. agalactiae, or mycoplasma and are usually spread from infected to non-infected cows during milking. S. aureus organisms colonize abnormal teat ends or teat lesions. Milker’s hands, wash cloths, teat cup liners, and flies are ways in which the infection can be spread from cow to cow. The organisms penetrate the teat canal during milking. Irregular vacuum fluctuations impact milk droplets and bacteria against the teat end with sufficient force to cause teat canal penetration and possible development of new infection
The first step in a mastitis control program thus is to use proper milking Hygiene. This means the teats should be clean & dry when the milk is harvested. Individual towels should be used for each cow so as not to transfer bacteria or microorganisms from one cow to another. Proper cow preparation is a very important step in preventing mastitis causing microorganisms from entering the teat end.
Milk with clean hands and wear sterile gloves if needed.  Pre-dip if allowed and necessary and allow 30 seconds contact time. Dry teats thoroughly, using single service paper or cloth towels. Examine fore-milk for clinical mastitis (flakes, clots, watery milk).  Wash teats with only as much water as necessary to get clean; using paper or cloth towels to scrub teats when dirty. (This step may be eliminated if teats are reasonably clean).
Milking machines can serve as a vector for transferring mastitis organisms from one cow to another, or they may propel droplets of milk back into the teat end, contributing to mastitis. Ensure milking machines are well maintained and the equipment is functioning correctly. Be sure to apply the machines quickly and remove the machines only when the vacuum has been shut off. Listen to the milking machine for air leaks that can cause droplets of milk to be impacted back into the udder of the cow. Avoid over-milking.
Dip teats after milking (iodine solution) covering at least the bottom half of teat. This will kill the microorganisms that are on the teat and aid in closing the sphincter muscle. If environmental mastitis is prevalent in the herd, pre dipping (dipping the teats before milking) and removing the dip completely can assist in the reduction of mastitis. Avoid allowing the dip to become contaminated with manure or other bacteria laden material. Use dip cups that have a small reservoir that will contain enough dip to treat one cow at a time.
yle="margin-bottom: .0001pt; margin-bottom: 0cm; mso-layout-grid-align: none; mso-pagination: none; text-align: justify; text-autospace: none;">Until the sphincter recovers and closes tightly (30-45 minutes), the mammary gland is at high risk for new infections if the teat end is place on bedding or in manure. By providing fresh feed and water after milking, the cows will remain standing to eat while the sphincter closes thus reducing the risk of infection.
The treatment of every quarter of every cow with a specially formulated long lasting antibiotic is essential for providing the cow with protection during the dry period. Most new cases of mastitis occur in the cow during the first two weeks after drying off and the two weeks prior to calving. At these times the infection will go unnoticed and will increase the number of cows that have mastitis early in lactation. This step is essential in reducing the number of new cases in the herd, and is the only way to effectively treat and eliminate contagious mastitis from the herd.
Cows infected with contagious mastitis must either be culled, segregated from the milking herd and milked last, milked with separate milking units, or teat cup liners must be rinsed and sanitized after milking infected cows (backflushed). Treated cows should be milked last to avoid antibiotic contamination of the bulk tank, even when a special milking unit is used.
It is very important to make a conscious effort by the persons milking the cows to detect all mastitis cases, and treat them promptly. Only approved and recommended mastitis treatments should be used to treat cows. It is important the full treatment regime be followed. It is also important that withdrawal times be observed to insure antibiotics are not permitted to contaminate the milk being sold to processors. Milk from treated cows, or cows with mastitis should not be fed to heifer calves.
Cows that do not respond favorably to treatment, or that continue to become infected should be culled from the herd. The continued presence of these cows in the herd can contribute to the infection of other cows in the herd. Cows that do not respond to treatment or continue to become infected are not economic and will cost the dairyman money. When making the decision to cull a cow, make sure the withdrawal time for the antibiotic is observed. 
Developing and following good bio-security system takes time and planning, but the cost to the farm enterprise for not having these systems can be considerable. It is also important to remember that developing bio-security plans decreases the risk of introducing health problems to the herd, but there is no guarantee that it will completely prevent the introduction of disease to the herd. Monitoring bulk tank SCC and bacteria, individual cow SCC, and clinical mastitis rates are ongoing tasks and essential for maintaining high levels of herd health and milk quality.

Information courtesy – Mr.Lindell Whitelock, Consultant, WWS; Mastitis Basics – Dr.John Kirk; Virginia Cooperative Extension Publication (Mastitis pathogen and control) and others.

Amit Sachdev
India Consultant
World Wide Sires

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In the last two blog posts I have provided details on handling semen tanks and later handling frozen semen for best results. I hope the information was of value. In the new blog post I will try to provide the information on heat detection. The article below is has been contributed by Mr.Lindell Whitelock, Consultant to World Wide Sires, USA and also information has been taken from Estrus Detection Guide, South Dakota University.

Success in conception is dependent on insemination timing, which is dependent upon a good heat detection program. A continued education program for the workforce is important. A successful heat detection program and subsequent proper timing of insemination will pay dividends in increasing reproductive efficiency. If a cow shows estrus in the morning, it must be inseminated the same day, next day would be too late. If estrus is detected in the afternoon, must plan to inseminate morning of next day at the latest. Plan inseminations in the morning – evening (AM-PM) rule and inseminate the animals within the 5-12 hr period of estrus cycle.
Estrus detection is the key to improving reproduction performance in the dairy herd. It is important not only to determine which cows are in “heat” but also to determine when the cow actually came into standing heat so the cow can be inseminated at a time when the cow is most likely to conceive.
The standing estrus (the sexually receptive period) is a result of a series of hormonal changes that occur at the end of each estrous cycle. Standing estrus is when a cow/heifer stands to be mounted by a bull or a female. In a normally cycling animal, standing estrus will occur approximately every 21 days, but this can range from 17 to 24 days.
Cows enter standing estrus gradually; secondary signs that an animal is getting close to standing estrus will progress until the animal stands to be mounted. None of the secondary signs alone is a positive determination of standing estrus. Standing to be mounted by a bull or another cow/heifer is the only conclusive sign that an animal is in standing estrus and ready to be inseminated.
The period of standing estrus usually lasts about 15 hours but can range from less than 6 hours to close to 24 hours. To maximize detection of standing estrus, it is extremely important to monitor cows/heifers as closely as possible—early in the morning and late at night as well as during the middle of the day.
A report suggests that continuous observation of over 500 animals in three separate studies indicated that 55.9% of cows initiated standing estrus from 6 p.m. to 6 a.m. When cows were checked for standing estrus every 6 hours (6 a.m., noon, 6 p.m., and midnight), the estrous detection rate increased by 19% compared to checking at 6 a.m. and 6 p.m. alone. Checking for standing estrus at 6 a.m., noon, and 6 p.m. increased the estrous detection rate by 10% compared to detecting estrus at 6 a.m. and 6 p.m. alone.
Unfortunately on many farms the estrus detection rate is very low, many times at less than 40%. A good estrus detection program should result in an estrus detection rate of 70% to 80%. Developing a good estrus detection program should be a priority if a farm is experiencing a low pregnancy rates.
Detecting standing estrus (“heat detection” or “detecting standing heat”) is simply looking for the changes in animal behavior that are associated with a cow/heifer standing to be mounted by a bull or another female. Detecting animals in standing estrus is critical to the success of any artificial insemination program. Animals not in estrus around the time of insemination have little chance of becoming pregnant.
The development of a successful estrus detection program involves the following steps. 

Development of a Standard Operating Procedure (SOP): The SOP should address many issues. The SOP should identify the person or persons who are responsible for the task. It should set forth the times when and where the cows are to be observed. It should also specify where the information will be recorded and who gets the information. It should also specify who gets that information and when.

Trained Personnel: Ensure the persons who are assigned the task of estrus detection are trained and confident in identifying the cows. To assist the people who are responsible for identifying the cows, prepare alert lists, consider using estrus detection aids, and even though a cow has been bred, keep watching until a pregnancy is confirmed. Ensure observed heats are recorded and the information is used to make breeding decisions.

Group all the open cows together: By locating all of the cows in one group, the cows are more likely to show behavioral signs of estrus and the observation of the cows can be conducted in a more efficient manner. Ensure the area where the cows are kept is comfortable and the floor surface provides for good footing for the cows. Do not overstock the pens; cows need room to move around if they are to exhibit signs of estrus.
Sore feet: Cows with sore feet do not mount other cows, and they do not allow othe cows to mount them. A cow with sore feet can be identified by an arch in her back. Cows with healthy feet walk with a straight back, so if several cows have even a slight arch in their back, the likelyhood of them showing physical signs of estrus are very low. Minimize sore feet  to improve estrus detection.

Observe cows every 6 to 8 hours: The observation, unless using a “Chalk & Breed” program should not be done at milking time or when cows have been fed. Multiple times observation will not only find more cows in estrus, but will also assist in being able to determine when the first standing heat occurred. This will also result in higher conception rates. ensure the data is recorded and reported so the cow is inseminated.


Estrus Detection Aids: Estrus detection aids such as pedometers may be used to assist in the identification of cows that are in estrus. If aids are used, then it is important to observe the cow as well. Look for secondary signs of estrus that would indicate the cow is actually in heat. Estrus detection aids can only help, but they do not replace actual observation of the cow.In every herd there will be problem cows. Cows that are not observed in estrus may require other actions. A program of using an estrus synchronization or hormonal program should be considered for the herd. A protocol should be developed to determine what the voluntary waiting period will be and when synchronization programs would be implemented. There are several synchronization protocols that can be used. 

Problem Cows: In every herd there will be problem cows. Cows that are not observed in estrus may require other actions. A program of using an estrus synchronization or hormonal program should be considered for the herd. A protocol should be developed to determine what the voluntary waiting period will be and when synchronization programs would be implemented. There are several synchronization protocols that can be used.

Key People:  A successful estrus detection program depends on people. The people must be trained, must understand the importance of their task and must communicate their findings. Estrus detection is the key to improved reproduction efficiency and that largely depends on people.

Amit Sachdev
India Consultant
World Wide Sires, USA

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Handling Frozen Semen and Preparing for Artificial Insemination

Artificial insemination (AI) has contributed enormously to the genetic improvement of the dairy cattle industry in the last 50 years. Frozen semen in 0.5 ml or 0.25 ml straws has become the universally accepted unit of storage and transfer of bovine genetics to cattle producers. While all the care is taken by the semen producers to collect the best quality semen and ship the same in the best possible way, there are times when results are not seen as required. One of the possible reasons is errors in handling of frozen semen.

Proper semen handling procedures from locating the semen in the liquid nitrogen tank to entering the cow’s reproductive tract need review periodically.

Everyone should establish a routine for handling frozen and thawed semen that does not injure sperm cells and lower conception rates. Usually, errors made in the handling of frozen – thawed semen and the equipment used for artificial insemination are small. But the mistakes in semen handling frequently add up meaning their effects on semen quality will be magnified many fold.

Few things must be taken into consideration as farmers/inseminators get ready to thaw the semen and inseminate the cows/heifers.

Coordinate rapid transfer of semen between tanks. Involve two people and arrange tanks side by side. If possible fill the tanks with nitrogen before transfer. Raise canisters only to a level necessary to locate the rack of semen to be transferred.

Develop a semen inventory system and mount it on the wall above the tank.

Try to keep semen from one bull on each rack. Such systems help avoid unnecessary searching and exposure of semen to dangerously high temperatures within the neck region.

When preparing to thaw semen raise the canister into the lower portion of the neck where the specific rack of semen can be grasped. Lower the canister further into the neck. Secure the rack as low as possible in the neck, thus protecting the other straws from thermal damage. If straws cannot be easily removed from the plastic goblet, bend the top tab of the rack to a 45° angle. This reduces the chance of bending the straw.

Use tweezers to transfer the straw to the thaw bath. Quickly lower the rack of semen and canister into the body of the tank.

Thawing of the semen within the straw starts to take place at room temperature after only four seconds, and as a “rapid thaw” is critical to obtaining minimum damage to the sperm during the thawing process, damage will occur if the thaw takes place at room temperature. 

Few steps that are important for handling frozen semen include:

Keep insemination equipment clean, dry and ready at all times. The necessary equipment includes Thaw Unit, Thermometer, Lube, Gloves, In
semination gun, Paper towels, Cito cutter or scissors, Sheaths and Tweezers

The Thaw unit is one of the main equipments required to get the semen ready for AI. Either an electric thaw unit or a good reliable thermos is necessary to thaw semen. The goal is to maintain constant water temperature.

Occasionally check the accuracy of the thermometer.

Transfer straw immediately to thaw unit. The temperature of water should be 95-98 degrees F or 35-37 degrees C. Thaw straw for at least 40 seconds but not for more than 15 minutes.

Do not attempt to thaw semen at temperatures greater than 98 degrees F (37 degrees C). Thaw units of semen individually or max 3 straws as thawing more straws does compromise fertility.

With tweezers, remove the straw from thaw unit and dry the straw, using a clean paper towel. Place the straw in the fold of the towel to dry. A small drop of water can be lethal to sperm.

(It is assumed that the bull identification code has been checked prior to thawing and a proper semen has been taken out of the canister)

Shake the air bubble from the middle of the straw to the crimped end. Cut off the crimped end of the straw with a scissors or Cito cutter. Cut the tip of the straw squarely, through the air space below the crimp to achieve a 90 degrees cut. An angle cut may prevent the straw from fitting securely into the sheath. Check to see that the straw is firmly seated into the plastic adaptor or tip of the sheath depending on the type of inseminating device/AI gun that is used.

When assembly of the insemination rod is complete, gently depress the syringe to remove the air space at the upper end of the straw. Eliminate the chance of cold shock by warming the inseminating rod and sheath to body temperature (do not use water for this purpose). Use a paper towel and warm by use of friction. Must be done prior to the start of thaw process.
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1.   Handle the thawed semen and prepare the insemination rod in a warm environment. Wrap the assembled insemination rod in a clean, dry paper towel and tuck it within your clothing for transport to the cow. Inseminate the cow within a few minutes after the semen has been thawed. Never take shortcuts when handling semen or inseminating a cow. Pay attention to detail. Never experiment on your own.

Five most common errors people commit when handling frozen semen and getting ready to inseminate the cow.
1. Raising the canister containing the semen canes above the frost line of the tank (frost line is usually 4 to 5 inches from the top) and removing the semen from the cane using fingers not tweezers. Exposing frozen semen to elevated temperatures in the neck tube of the tank has the potential to cause sperm damage.
2. Improper thaw bath temperature. Either not using a thermometer to obtain thaw bath temperature of 95 deg F/37 deg C or using a thermometer that needs adjustment, thus not obtaining the desired water bath temperature.
3. Not timing thawing. Frozen semen should be in 95 deg F water bath for a minimum of 40 seconds for proper thawing.
4. Straw not dried completely prior to placement in the insemination rod.
5. Straw not cut at proper distance from crimp sealed end (middle of air bubble) at a right angle straight across the straw to prevent semen feedback inside the sheath and insemination rod.

If semen is not thawed properly to begin with, the technician doesn’t need to worry about cold shock as “Dead sperms do not get cold shock”..!!!

Other considerations to get the best results
1. Handle animals gently to avoid unnecessary excitement before, during, and after breeding. Undue excitement may adversely affect sperm transport within the female reproductive system causing a lower conception rate.
2. Breed animals based on standing heat, remembering to breed the animals 10 to 12 hours after the beginning of standing behavior.
Amit Sachdev
India Consultant
World Wide Sires, USA
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Taking care of bovine semen tanks and semen

Although semen costs are only a small fraction of overall dairy farm expenses, the absolute value of the semen inventory at any given time may represent a significant sum of money. Semen is half the investment in a dairy farm, without which the next generation will not be born and hence no milk. It is important to take good care of the semen as well as the tank in which it is stored.
Liquid nitrogen is an atmospheric gas in liquidized form.  It is a cryogenic fluid that can cause almost instant freezing when it comes in contact with living tissue.  A liquid nitrogen tank keeps its materials well below the freezing point of water.  Contact with skin would cause instant frostbite.

Semen is stored in Liquid Nitrogen Tanks (LN2) and the temperature is -195 deg C at the bottom of the tank and there is a gradient from top to bottom.
Although tanks are designed to be sturdy and dependable, they are more fragile than they appear. They require regular care and attention to ensure they function properly for many years. Failure to do so can lead to lost inventory, or reduced pregnancy rates because semen quality is compromised.

A – LID / B – NECK / D – LOCKING TAB / F – CANISTER NUMBERING  (color coded)

Few tips to take care of the LN2 Tank 

1. Store the semen tank in a dry, well-lighted and well-ventilated area but out of direct sunlight. Tank must not be put in a place where there is excessive water or chemical use. Observe the tank daily. Once a tank “goes bad” the nitrogen is lost very rapidly. Develop a plan to have an alternative semen tank available in case your tank is damaged. 

2. Keep the tank elevated above the concrete floor or other wet and poorly ventilated surfaces. Corrosion of the outer shell shortens the functional life of the tank and possibly causes tank failure.

3. Avoid excessive movement or abuse of the tank. Any stress cracks (which normally appear on the neck), must be taken seriously.

4. Frost is one of the key external warning signs prior to tank failure. A properly functioning tank will not develop frost on the outside. Frost buildup around the outside top of your tank, particularly around the neck, indicates a vacuum loss – which results in rapid volatilization of the liquid nitrogen. Semen quality can be compromised under these circumstances. Keep in mind that this frosting usually happens quickly and doesn’t last too long because the liquid nitrogen has escaped.

5. Routinely monitor nitrogen levels and keep a record of nitrogen usage.
Remember even new tanks can have defects and fail. T
he temperature in the neck of the tank becomes warmer as the liquid nitrogen level in the tank decreases.  Never let the tank go dry.

6. The tank’s cork is handled frequently every time semen is retrieved, it should be inspected monthly to make sure it is doing its job. A poor quality cork increases the boil-off rate by 20 percent to 30 percent. That’s because insulation properties decrease for these corks and more heat gets into your tank. Exposing an open tank to the environment and wind can multiply the boil-off rate by up to 8 times the normal amount.
One person should be made responsible for the tank, create a checklist of things to do and check along with a timetable. This will help in plugging any loopholes and minimize damage to the investment.
Retrieval techniques also help in limiting the damage to the semen
When removing a straw from a liquid nitrogen tank, it is imperative that the technician keep the canister, cane and unused semen straws as low as possible in the neck of the tank. A best management practice is to keep all unused straws below the frost-line in the neck of the tank.
Location on the Neck Tube
Range in Temperature in Deg C
+2.2 to +12.2 Deg C
1 inch from TOP
-15 to – 22.2 Deg C
2 inch from TOP
- 40 to – 46 Deg C
3 inch from TOP
- 75 to – 82 Deg C
4 inch from TOP
- 100 to – 120 Deg C
5 inch from TOP
- 140 to – 160 Deg C
6 Inch from TOP
- 180 to – 197 Deg C
Source: Pennsylvania University newsletter – IRM-11
Typical Temperatures in Field Semen Tanks in USA

Keep in mind that although the temperature of liquid nitrogen is -195 degrees C, there is a temperature gradient in the neck of the tank. For example, a tank with a neck tube that measures six inches long may have a temperature of -75 degrees C in the middle of the neck (3 inches below the top), while the temperature at 1 inch below the top may be + 2.2 degrees C. Reports have shown that sperm injury (as judged by sperm motility) occurs at temperatures as low as -78.8 degrees C. Furthermore, injury to sperm cannot be corrected by returning semen to the liquid nitrogen.
Use tweezers/angled forceps to retrieve the straws and keep the canisters as low as possible and do not use the fingers as they might get damaged due to frostbite. If the technician is unable to retrieve the straw in 10 seconds, the canister should be lowered and allowed to re-cool for 20 seconds before trying again. More time in a warm zone leads to partial thawing and can compromises the semen quality.

More about handling frozen semen in the next blog
Amit Sachdev
India consultant
World Wide Sires

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Steps to Improve Dairy Herd Performance – 2

I do hope the information in the 5 first set of tips was useful. The second set of 5 tips can be found below.  


6. Fresh cow monitoring: Develop a program to assess the condition of the herd for at least 15 days after calving. Observations should be made to identify cows that may not be eating well, show signs of a health problem or infection, mastitis, lameness, and any other condition that would affect the cow. Cows that show signs of problems should be treated to correct the problem quickly. This program will have a significant impact on the performance of the herd in terms of both milk production and reproduction.
7. Reproduction Performance is the key to success: A set of goals for reproduction for the farm are a must and the people must strive to achieve those goals. Estrus detection is a key factor in achieving pregnancies. A  program should be made (Standard Operating Procedure- SOP) that ensures cows are observed for estrus, and that appropriate steps are taken. Farms should have an estrus detection rate of 75% or greater if they are to have a good reproduction program. Be sure the people who are to be observing the cows know both the primary and secondary signs of estrus. If  cows are not found in heat, then they can’t be inseminated. 
8. A good milking routine is important: It is very important that every cow is milked at the same way every time. A routine prepares the cow for the milk harvesting process and will not only speed the milking process, but will also improve production. Milk the cows on a regular schedule. High quality milk depends on cows being milked properly using good milking hygiene and checking for mastitis in the cows. High Somatic Cell Counts have a negative impact on both milk production and reproduction.
9. The heifer raising program is the key to the future herd: Feeding and management are very important factors in raising heifers that will be high producing cows that are healthy and last in the herd for a long period of time. Monitor the growth of the heifers, they should be strong but not fat, and ensure they are of adequate size to breed at 14 to 15 months of age so they are in the milking herd at 23 to 25 months of age. A poorly managed heifer raising program results in lower producing cows that do not last long in the herd. (
10. Maintain records. Keeping records is essential. Records should be easy to access and should summarize data quickly. Production records should be available to the key personnel on the farm so they can monitor performance. Record keeping and monitoring the records allows the management to identify problems in the herd and it is much easier to correct a small problem before it becomes a large problem. 

Along with all the above tips it is important that the animals are tagged and SOP’s are set in place for all the things that are done at the farm. The farm should not be dependent on the persons and missing/absent persons should not mean that the general things will not be done. Anyone and everyone should have access to the SOP’s and things should be followed.

Amit Sachdev
India Consultant
World Wide Sires
E mail:

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Steps to Improve Dairy Herd Performance

Steps to Improve Dairy Herd Performance

Herd Management is time management, food and water management and people management. When systems are put in place and Standard Operating Procedures (SOP’s) practiced, a herd or for that matter a any business will flourish. Any change in temperature, feed and people affects the animals more than anything. All beings, including animals are creatures of routine and habit and it helps by not deviating from the routine.

Below are the set of first 5 tips that can help dairy farmers manage their herds better increase production. The second set of tips will be posted next week, Mar 24, 2010.

The tips are contributed by Mr.Lindell Whitelock, Technical Consultant, World Wide Sires, USA, who has traveled the world and has the experience from varied areas that can be used in India. 
The latest news is GOI has allowed import of 30,000 MT of Skimmed Milk Power and 15,000 MT of butter oil at ZERO duty. Both the commodities are under Tariff Rate Quota  (TRQ) regime and imports will be allowed to designated agencies after TRQ allocations are obtained from Directorate General of Foreign Trade (DGFT). This also means that milk is deficit and the summer months will be a litmus test for the dairy farmers and companies.

India’s population is increasing much faster than the demand for milk and milk products. It is important that farmers manage their herds better and produce enough, quality milk, by using new technologies for breeding, feeding and  management.
Dairy farmers are always looking for ways to improve the production from the animals and profitability of the farm. Many times a new technology is to be adopted, but most times improvements in production can be made by observing the basic rules of good cow care and management. As farmers or farm mangers go about their daily tasks, they often over look the most basic issues that have a definitive impact on the herd.

1. Forage Quality: The key to a good nutrition program is to have good forage. Forages provide the material needed for good rumination in the cow, and rumination is what provides the buffers to keep a balanced pH in the rumen. Low quality forage reduces intake, leads to sub clinical acidosis, and lameness in the herd. The dairy farmer’s first priority must be to either produce or purchase high quality forages. Most of the farmers depend of more or dry fodder, which may be good fillers, but do not provide the necessary nutrients needed to produce milk or maintain the animal.

2. Consistency in the Feeding Program: It is important that cows be fed the same feeds every day at the same time. A cow likes to eat multiple times throughout the day so it is vital she have access to feeds 24 hours a day. Ensure that the feed is mixed the same way each day, with a correct particle size, and the proper moisture level that will encourage feed intake. It is also important to look at the manure as well as the left over feed in the manger (feed bunk). A monitoring system for nutrition is important and changes in the feed are inevitable, but must be planned and made slowly so as the animals get adjusted to the change in feed ingredient. An immediate change is likely to bring a drop in milk production or cause other problems.

3. Comfortable Cows Make More Milk: Cow comfort means the cows should have a resting place that is clean and dry. It also means they should have walking areas that provide good footing and are comfortable for the cows to walk on. It also means that cows should be kept COOL. High temperatures, high humidity and a stall that is not well designed create stress for the cow. Stress reduces feed consumption that will impact milk production. Make sure your entire facility is cow friendly. Puddles on water. dung heaps or hard floors all cause stress. In hot temperatures, soakers/misters with fans be utilized. In high humidity areas, moving air faster would be a better option.

4. Feed and Water accessibility 24X7 is the key: Cows eat and drink very often, hence it is important that feed and water are always available. Time out of the feeding area should be limited to 1 hour or less. Cows like to eat less at each meal and then ruminate between meals. It is important to observe the resting cow
s and determine how many are chewing their cuds. Ensure the feed bunk (manger) is correctly constructed and that cows are comfortable while at the bunk. Provide adequate amounts of water and adequate facilities so cows can have access to water (24X7). Animals are creatures of habit, would drink water if it is provided at long intervals and will wait for the next round of water cycle, which is not desirable, hence 24X7 clean water must be made available to the cows.

5. A dry cow management program and transition ration: The dry period is very important and should not be neglected. During the dry period dry cows be segregated from lactating cows and a ration of high fiber, low protein and energy be fed. Avoid letting cows get too much body fat! Three weeks before the expected calving date, a transition ration must be made available. Transition ration is very similar to the lactating ration. It is also important to keep the dry cows in very clean sanitary housing to reduce the risk of infections after calving.

I do hope the information is of value. Watch this space for the next set of tips.

Happy Dairying

Amit Sachdev
India Consultant
World Wide Sires, USA
E mail:
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Calf rearing – for a successful dairy farming operation

Calf rearing – for a successful dairy farming operation 
A healthy female calf is the starting point for a profitable dairy farm business. It is from day one that the foundation for the high milk-yielding animal is laid and proper rearing of the young ones greatly influences the future production.
The first few months in the calf’s life are much more important than most people realize. Proper attention should be paid to the rearing of young calves and there should be no lacunae. The person in charge of calf rearing has one of the most responsible jobs on the farm and he/she must be fully aware of this responsibility.
The main purpose of rearing young ones is to raise well–developed heifers, which will be able to achieve a desired weight for first insemination to calve at an early age to cater to farmer’s own breeding herd or to make available good quality pregnant cows to the industry.
Some of the advantages of early calving are lower rearing costs, early productivity and a higher life-time milk production, thus making the milking animals more profitable.
For the prevention of problems at calving time, it is of utmost importance that the heifers are well developed. The optimal time of first insemination is more depended on body weight than age. Some heifers may be able to achieve the desired weight in 14 months; others may achieve the same in 16 months of age. Thus the proper age for insemination and calving are governed by the development of the heifer. Though good young stock rearing practices, it is possible to inseminate the heifers at an average age of about 14 – 15 months, which results in an average calving of about 24 months.
Feeding Colostrum
Colostrum is defined as the secretion from the mammary gland of the mammals during the first few days of parturition. In the dairy industry, secretions from the milking animal’s udder for one day after the parturition are commonly referred to as COLOSTRUM. Secretions produced second and third day after parturition are called TRANSITION MILK. Colostrum differs from the normal milk in many ways. It is markedly higher in solids, fats, protein, vitamins and Ig (commonly referred as antibodies) and is lower in lactose. The amount of solids and protein (especially Ig), decline rapidly after the first day, so that by day four the milk reaches normal composition.
 It is essential that the calf receives about 1. 5 – 2 liters of Colostrum within the first half an hour of birth. On the first day fresh Colostrum can be fed 3 – 4 times. From day two, twice daily feeding should suffice. With each feeding 2 liters of Colostrum should be given.
If by any chance, the calf is not provided with the Colostrum for the first 6 hours of life, the amount of Colostrum will have to be increased to compensate for the reduced absorption of antibodies (Ig). However, the delay in Colostrum feeding increases the risk of bacterial infection.
The intestines do not discriminate among molecules. If Colostral molecules do not saturate the intestinal absorptive sites, it is possible that bacteria may reach the sites first and be absorbed in the calf system. If bacterial reach the absorptive sites before the Colostral Proteins, the calf will be at great risk of septicemia, which is often fatal. Therefore, it is imperative that Colostrum is fed as soon as possible after birth.
Feeding milk and milk replacer
Until he rumen can start supplying energy and microbial protein sufficient for maintenance and growth, the calf must have a high quality liquid milk or milk replacer diet. Emphasis must be placed on the quality as well as quantity of the Milk and Milk Replacer offered. Also, sanitizing Feeding and mixing equipment along with proper handling and storage of milk and milk replacer are essential to avoid bacterial contamination that may lead to calf health problems.
Three days after the birth there should be a gradual change to twice daily feeding of whole milk or MILK REPLACER. Whole milk with a fat content of approximately 4 percent can be fed @ 2 – 2.5 liters per feeding (4 – 5 liters daily). Milk Replacer with a lower fat content of 2 percent will have to be fed @ 2.5 – 3 liters in each feeding (5 – 6 liters / day). Ideally, milk feeding should be adjusted to the size and health of the calf and climatic conditions. In cold conditions, higher quantity may be required  as  the calf requires 25-30 percent additional solids and a third feeding may be required. While feeding too little milk at an early stage depresses growth, too much milk for longtime will depress calf starter intake. An ideal calf starter should be about 16-17% digestible crude protein and should be highly palatable.
The feeding should be done at regular intervals. Ideally milk should always be fed at body temperature. However, daily variations in the temperature of heated milk may cause more digestive disorders than cool milk.

Feeding high quality liquid feed will lead to better early growth, higher rates of calf survival and early dry feed intake.Without adequate nutrition, the calf and its immune system will not grow. Thus it is predisposed to disease, particularly scouring and respiratory problems. The calf must begin to grow it is to have an adequate calf starter intake to promote the necessary Volatile Fatty Acids (VFA’s) for rumen development.
Weaning should be done at a weight of 85 kg or when the chest circumference is 95 cm. A young calf must attain at least 70 percent of calving time weight (24 months) at the time of first insemination (15th month) and the average weight gain from third month to 14/15th month should be about 800 gms/day.  
Amit Sachdev
India Consultant
World Wide Sires

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Evaluation of cattle in Punjab and some suggestions

This is the first post for this blog. Mr.Tony Evangelo, Area Director of Marketing, World Wide Sires, USA was in India in Feb 2010 and judged the cattle show at Jargaon, Punjab on Feb 13-14, 2010. He has penned his thoughts and what he saw in the Indian cattle (Punjab) and how these cattle could be improved further. 

I had the pleasure of serving as a judge for the PDFA Dairy Cattle show in Jagraon, Punjab on February 13 and 14.
The cow in featured alongside (right and below was the 1st prize in the Milking Cow group. She won on the merit of her quality udder and dairy characteristics.  Her rear udder exhibited good capacity and width.  She also displays a strong central ligament, which indicates her udder will hold form for many lactations.  She also showed angularity over the shoulder, and a deep, open rib.

A side view of the 1st prize cow (above) shows her to be good cow, not so large, but has enough size for a commercial dairy operation.  Here, you can see her strong fore udder attachment, correct leg set, and depth of fore rib.  She also has a correct rump, with proper slope from hips to pins.

On the right is a photo of the 1st prize Mature Bull.  This bull impressed with great size, stature and strength.  He was selected the winner based on his tremendous frame traits.  He also shows a correct leg structure with a steep foot angle.

The picture on the left is an example of a high quality, mature Jersey cow.  She has tremendous depth of rib and openness to her rib.  For a mature cow, she shows strong udder attachments and correct teat placement.  She appears to be a high producing individual, with many productive lactations.

The cow picture below shows outstanding dairy form, with open ribs and plenty of capacity in her barrel.  She has strong udder attachments, and correct teat placement.  She does display some curve to her rear legs, and a bull that sires a straighter leg should be used to improve her rear leg structure.
There are ways to correct the cows in the next generation using set of bulls that are available. Each character has a different heritability and in come cases the correction can happen in one generation or may take 3 in some cases. 
We do hope that the information above will be of value to you.
Amit Sachdev
India Consultant
World Wide Sires
E mail:
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Welcome to the World Wide Sires Dairy Blog
World Wide Sires, USA has been working in India for last 4 years and is trying to provide the best bovine germplasm to the Indian dairy, based on GOI guidelines. The aim is not only to sell, but also provide services to its clients, by way of updated information on new technologies related to nutrition, breeding and management that will assist farmers and companies take decisions to run the enterprise efficiently.
WWS consultants travel the world and will be providing data/information that will be put on the blog. The team will try to get the information to you suited to Indian conditions. Should you have any querries or questions on specific topics that need answers, please feel free to post them as comments on the blog or send a mail to and we will try to provide the information to you.
We at World Wide Sires hope that the information so provided will be helpful to everyone in the dairy business.
Happy Dairying
Amit Sachdev
India Consultant
World Wide Sires
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