Four Ways to Use a Custom Index to Design a Profitable Cow

March 23, 2023

Determining the ideal for your system is your key to continually maximizing operation profitability. Think about it like this. Regardless of industry, any operation has ongoing strategic production plans focused on the impact areas. Profit is the result of every single business unit’s plan being aligned with the overall goals of the operation and obtaining consistent efficiency. Considering your dairy, your single business unit is one individual cow on your operation.  

To maximize operation profitability, you must maximize the production and profitability of each cow in your herd.

However, it’s not as simple to say, go find the highest-producing cow in your herd and use her sire for the next five years. You must know what creates the most return on investment before you invest. Thus, your operation’s profitability hinges on defining the ideal cow for your specific system.  

It is important to understand that genetic selection to optimize efficiency, production, and profitability can be very different from the historic genetic practices. The traditional ways may not be what is profitable for you.  

Consider these operational questions to help you define your ideal cow.   

  • Have you analyzed your milk market to ensure you are producing a product with optimal value and efficiency? 
  • Are there inefficiencies costing you money that you could prioritize for improvements? 
  • Are you making blanket assumptions, like all younger animals are most genetically superior, about your herd that could be hindering your genetic selection? 
  • Are you using only management practices to assist a cow to her potential rather than considering the genetic impact? 

Once you understand the type of cow you need to maximize future profitability, the best way to build her is through a Custom Index. You are in control of your genetic plan with a Custom Index. You decide the traits that define your ideal cow and choose how to weight them based on impact. Rather than using national evaluations like Net Merit as your “North Star”, a Custom Index allow you to customize your genetic plan based on your milk market, facilities, or business style. It truly gets away from the one size fits all approach that comes with national evaluations.   

Four Ways to Design a Better Genetic Calf Crop with An ABS Custom Index 

  1. Identify the right sires to introduce to your herd 
  1. Rank your females based on the right genetics mix for you 
  1. Determine which females you want to become mothers for the next generational 
  1. Use individual mating recommendations if desired using ABS’s Genetic Services 

Sometimes, defining the ideal cow for profit in your system is not an easy task, but you do not have to do it only. At ABS, we want to serve as your genetic advisor and help you create a genetic plan that fits your operation’s needs. You set your goals. We’ll help you reach them. And, be with you every step of the way. 

Learn more about defining a profitable cow by reading our article originally published in Progressive Dairy.   

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