Holstein breeders need to set higher goals when it comes to reproduction, said Neil Michael, D.V.M., with Vita Plus when speaking to those attending the fifth annual Dairy Cattle Reproduction Council meeting in St. Paul, Minn., on November 11 and 12. Ron Butler, Cornell's Animal Science Department chair agreed, saying, "It certainly looks like reproductive rates have leveled off compared to the downward trends we had seen in recent decades."

So what should new goals be when breeding herds? While at ABS Global, Dr. Michael was a part of a research team that looked at 231,000 Holsteins across the U.S. They found that Holstein herds in the Top 20 Percentile achieved the following:

• 21-Day Preg Rates, > 20 percent
• Conception to first service TAI (Timed A.I.), > 38 percent
• Conception to first service A.I. after observed estrus, > 39 percent
• Cows culled before 30 DIM (Days in milk), 4 percent
• Cows culled before 60 DIM, 6 percent
• Stillbirths per year, < 6 percent
• Abortions per year, < 10 percent

In another presentation, Ray Nebel, a reproductive specialist with Select Sires pointed out that preg rates in Holstein herds average 16.6 percent. However, those in the top 10 percentile are reaching 24 percent or better. Meanwhile, Jersey herds are averaging 19 percent with those in the top 10 percent achieving 28 percent or better.