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'Repro Money' program being offered to dairy farmers

June 28, 2012 | 0 comments

Modeled on the "Milk Money" program that was available to dairy farmers during several years in the past decade, the University of Wisconsin Extension Service is now launching a similar program titled "Repro Money" for reproduction efficiency in a dairy herd.

Like the Milk Money program, Repro Money relies on a team approach involving off-farm specialists who are directed by the dairy farm owner/manager with a goal of improving the reproductive performance and, in turn, the profitability of the dairy herd, according to Calumet County Extension Service agriculture agent Matt Glewen.

Appropriate members of such a team, as chosen by the farm owner, would include an artificial insemination (AI) company consultant and on-farm technician, herd veterinarian and nutritionist, key employees and perhaps other persons, Glewen indicates. He adds that a local Extension Service agent should also be a member of the team, serving as a team leader who could handle such chores as setting up meetings and handling some paperwork.

At a first meeting, the parties should assess current practices, set priorities, calculate the potential financial returns from reproduction improvements, and assign specific tasks based on those findings, Glewen suggests. Followup meetings would evaluate progress and make changes as needed.

The funding allocated for a Repro Money program runs for six months for a participating farm, Glewen notes. He says the team participants should commit to meeting four times during those six months.

"Repro Money is not about telling you what to do and how to do it," Glewen explains. "It is about providing you with the resources and tools needed to make better management decisions regarding the reproductive management of your dairy farm."

Enrollment in the program entitles the herd owner to a review of the Dairy Comp or other software program being used on the farm, a farm record summary evaluation from which a benchmark would be set, a dairy management economic analysis, a review of dairy rations by University of Wisconsin faculty if requested by the owner, support by that faculty for developing an action plan chosen by the farm team, and acquisition of a DVD in English and Spanish on AI techniques for dairy cattle.

The first step for anyone interested in undertaking a Repro Money program is to register with the county Extension Service agriculture or dairy and livestock agent.

The second step is to chose one's Repro Money team and proceed to carry out the recommended identification, evaluation and revising of management factors and practices.

An accompanying component of the program is the results achieved by the farms enrolled in it will be used as a research component on dairy reproduction, Glewen indicates.

"This is totally up to you," Glewen remarks.

He suggests getting organized, setting up a time when reproduction is a priority, and "picking those things you can change and want to change first."

Except for any reproduction team member(s) who might charge for the meeting times, there is no cost to dairy farmers to participate in the Repro Money. The program is funded by a U.S. Department of Agriculture grant and will likely be available for at least two years, according to Connie Cordoba, who is the state coordinator for Repro Money.

Cordoba can be reached at 608-265-9746 or by email to repromoney@ces.uwex.edu.

The web site for the program is www.fyi.uwex.edu/repromoney.

Dairy farmers who live in a county which does not have an Extension Service agent who is available to work with a Repro Money program are asked to contact Cordoba so special arrangements can be made.

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