Milk Preg Test Proves Popular
One word ‘convenience’ sums up what most producers like about the new milk pregnancy test from DHI. On most farms, where time is short and the list of things to do never seems to get any shorter, being able to get things done without extra work or hassle is really important.
“The DHI milk pregnancy test is effortless. I do DHI 12 times per year and it uses the same test day sample, which is very handy."
Tom McDonald, Kerrydale Farms
The test has proven to be very popular since its introduction in January 2013. “Hundreds of producers have used the service and sample volumes have been ”, states Richard Cantin, Manager of Customer Service for DHI.
Tom McDonald of Kerrydale Farms, milks 55 cows in Williamstown Ontario, and likes the convenience. “The DHI milk pregnancy test is effortless. I do DHI 12 times per year and it uses the same test day sample, which is very handy. I pregnancy check my cows with the veterinarian at 28 days or more post breeding and then watch for future heat signs. I then stagger my DHI milk tests in between my monthly herd health visits and use the milk pregnancy test on all cows at 95 plus days carried calf. I get my results by email usually the same day that the samples are processed and if a cow is found open, I present her back to the veterinarian on the next vet check with a re-synch shot 7 days before. This way I am able to catch open cows and get them back in calf sooner. The milk pregnancy test is handy and cost-effective.”
"Rechecking for us is very important to help detect any lost pregnancies and we feel it has and will continue to save us money."
Martien Huyzer, Huntcliff Dairy
Ben Vanderkooi also agrees. He owns Abbyview Farms in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan where he milks 400 cows. They have used the milk test as a recheck as soon as it became available. He comments, “We started using the milk test as our routine recheck at 60 days bred. It’s cost effective and we really like the convenience. Now we have fewer cows to sort and handle every week when we do our early checks.”
"We really like the convenience. Samples are already being collected, so it doesn’t get simpler than that."
Philip Armstrong, Armstrong Manor Farm
Martien Huyzer of Huntcliff Dairy milks 110 cows in Olds, Alberta. He also uses the milk test as a recheck. “We do our vet check at 30-32 days post breeding and then target to recheck cows using the milk test at 120 days carried calf. Rechecking for us is very important to help detect any lost pregnancies and we feel it has and will continue to save us money. We like the fact that we can do the rechecks as part of the regular DHI test, which makes it easy, no cows to handle. We get results back quite quickly and enter them into Dairy Comp which allows us to keep track of everything. The milk test is now part of our routine repro management protocol.”
Another herd that uses the milk test to complement the early vet checks is Arm Manor of Caledon, Ontario. Philip with brother Peter and son Richard manage the 260 cow herd. They have used the milk test regularly as a recheck. He comments “Our vet is on farm weekly for fresh and early preg checks and we hadn’t been doing rechecks routinely as it meant sorting more cows and we weren’t sure of the value. Now we use the milk test as a routine confirmation at 70 days bred and we have found a few Open cows that we might not otherwise. We really like the convenience. Samples are already being collected, so it doesn’t get simpler than that.”
Dry Off Checks Growing in Popularity
Many herds are also using the milk test as a dry off check. Once confirmed safe in calf, managers often don’t pay much attention to that group of late gestation cows. Most often all is well, but sometimes open cows are found in the dry area. Barb Maitland and her family milk 135 cows in Jasper, Ontario. They have used the milk test as a dry off check.
“What I like about the DHI milk pregnancy test is that it is easy and convenient. We are pregnancy checking with our veterinarian at 30 days post breeding and again at 40-50 days. Even with the two checks, we were still having some late pregnancy abortions resulting in OPEN dry cows.
Our veterinarian suggested that we start pregnancy checking pre-dry off. We are testing all cows approximately one month before dry off and sometimes cows in between vet checks that show high activity, which we present back to our veterinarian.
With the DHI milk pregnancy test, we do not have to handle these cows and we no longer have OPEN cows at dry off.”
Other producers have experienced similar benefits. Ralph Coneybeare of Conlee Farms in Listowel, Ontario, milks 110 cows in a robotic system. They too have used the milk test regularly, but as a dry off check. “I use the milk test as one last check before drying off. We’re in a robotic milking system and we don’t want to lock up any more cows, or for any longer than we have to, so I wasn’t dry off checking before. Now the milk test makes it easy and I view it as an insurance that the cows I’m assuming are pregnant, still are. If you consider dry treatment and dry feed costs, the dollar value spent on checking one last time for the few cows we will find OPEN, is well worth it,” says Ralph.
Chris Schouten of Cornerview Farms milks 550 cows in Richmond, Ontario and also uses the milk test as a late check. He explains, “The milk pregnancy test works very well for us. With a herd our size, we do weekly vet checks. By doing the reconfirmation checks with the DHI milk sample, it is less cows to sort at the rail which reduces the stress level on the cows. We currently check all cows 165 plus days carried calf and we occasionally find a cow that went OPEN for some reason. This allows us a chance to put her back in calf or continue milking her, depending on her production value. Before, we used to find the odd OPEN cow in the dry pen which was not good. The test is convenient, cost-effective and fits in well with our herd health program.”
To date, DHI has milk pregnancy tested over 20,000 samples from various stage of gestation. As you would expect, the majority of cows are confirmed pregnant, but OPEN results have been found across all stages of gestation, of course at a higher rate earlier, but certainly right through to just before dry off.
Cantin concludes, “We’re very pleased by the positive feedback we’re getting from our customers. Like anything new, it often takes a bit of time to figure out the best use and fit. As a recheck and a dry off check, the milk test is proving to be a great tool.’
For more information, talk to your local DHI Customer Service Representative, or contact DHI at 1 800 549 4373.
Article from the December 2013 Ontario Catalyst