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Characteristics of Michigan DHI Herds

Kathy Lee
Extension Dairy Educator
Northwest Lower Michigan

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

The DairyMetrics program available from Dairy Records Management Services (DRMS) was used to summarize performance data for Michigan DHI herds.  For Table 1, herds were divided into 3 groups based on rolling herd average for milk (< 22,000 lb, 22,000 - 25,999 lb, and > 26,000 lb). The herds are grouped in Table 2 by herd size (< 100 cows, 100 – 249 cows, and > 250 cows). The items in each table are from the DHI-202 Herd Summary report and include key indicators of overall herd management. Data presented in each table are the averages for each key indicator. 

Trends -- Production Groups
Several general trends were observed across the production groupings.
   •  The highest production group has the lowest average days open and the highest pregnancy rate. In addition, this group has the lowest days to first service and the highest percentage of heats observed. However, the highest average for percentage of successful first services was in the lower production group.
   •   The highest production group has the lowest average somatic cell counts
   •   Higher producing herds use a higher percentage of AI sires with a higher percentile ranking for Net Merit.
   •   Larger herd size average is associated with the highest production group.

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

Trends -- Herd Size Groups
Some trends also existed across the groupings based on herd size.
   •   The larger herds tended to have more desirable reproductive performance. The average days open was lowest in the largest herd category. The largest herd category also had the highest average pregnancy rate, highest percentage heats observed, and lowest days to first service. However, the highest percentage of successful first services was in the lowest herd size category.
   •   Average somatic cell count was lowest in the largest herd size category.
   •   The larger herds tended to have higher rolling herd averages, a trend that has existed for a number of years. It should be noted that there was a significant range in production in each herd size category. In fact, the maximum rolling herd average for milk was at or above 30,000 lb milk in each category.

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

Using Dairymetrics
DairyMetrics is a benchmarking tool for dairy farm performance evaluation. DHI members and their herd consultants can compare their own herds to a group of herds that meet the criteria that they select (cohort herds).  The cohorts can be selected based on parameters within 5 categories (general, production, udder health, reproduction and genetic information). Herds from other states that are processed by DRMS can also be included in comparisons. 

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

The DairyMetrics program is available at the DRMS website (http://www.drms.org). NorthStar DHI Services (800-631-3510) can provide more information about using DairyMetrics.

Table 1:  Averages of Michigan DHI Herds by Rolling Herd Average Milk Categories



Key Indicator



All Herds


RHA Milk

< 22,000 lb

RHA Milk
22,000 to 25,999 lb


RHA Milk

>  26,000 lb

Pregnancy Rate (yr)

17

15

17

20

Days to First Service

92

104

90

81

Projected Days Open

155

176

149

135

% 1st Services Successful

44

48

44

40

% Heats Observed

43

33

44

54

Age at First Calving (mo)

26

27

25

25

% Bred to AI Sires

77

68

77

88

Percentile Rank of Proven AI Sires

 

52


42


53


65

% Cows Dry 40-70 Days

67

55

69

78

% Cows Left Herd

35

36

36

35

Average SCC Score

2.4

2.7

2.3

2.1

Average SCC (1,000)

245

294

219

196

Summit Milk – 1st Lact.

76

66

78

86

Summit Milk – 2nd Lact.

97

82

101

114

Summit Milk – 3rd+ Lact.

103

87

107

121

Rolling Herd Avg. Milk, (lb)

23,312

19,176

24,085

27,718

Number of Herds

537

188

207

142

Average Herd Size

269

115

304

432

** SCC=Somatic Cell Count
**DairyMetrics summaries based on DRMS data available on September 2, 2010.

Table 2: Averages of Michigan DHI Herds by Herd Size Categories



Key Indicator



All Herds


Herd Size

< 100 Cows

Herd Size
100-249 Cows

Herd Size
> 250 Cows

Pregnancy Rate (yr)

17

15

16

19

Days to First Service

92

107

91

79

Projected Days Open

155

173

153

137

% 1st Services Successful

44

49

46

39

% Heats Observed

43

43

42

54

Age at First Calving

26

27

26

25

% Bred to AI Sires

77

74

74

83

Percentile Rank of Proven AI Sires


52


46


54


56

% Cows Dry 40-70 Days

67

59

66

75

% Cows Left Herd

35

36

35

36

Average SCC Score

2.4

2.7

2.3

2.2

Average SCC (1,000)

245

298

228

205

Summit Milk – 1st Lact.

76

70

77

81

Summit Milk – 2nd Lact.

97

88

98

106

Summit Milk – 3rd+ Lact.

103

93

104

112

Rolling Herd Avg. Milk, lb

23,312

20,944

23,654

25,402

Number of Herds

537

179

212

146

Average Herd Size

269

63

160

701

** SCC=Somatic Cell Count
**DairyMetrics summaries based on DRMS data available on September 2, 2010.

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