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Thread: Sire Conception Rate (SCR) in dairy breeding

  1. #1
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    Default Sire Conception Rate (SCR) in dairy breeding

    Does anyone pay attention to SCR when selecting which semen to buy? To be honest, I've never paid attention to the number.... until yesterday.

    SCR was introduced in 2008 and is a measure to determine how many cows/heifers conceive when a dose of semen from that bull is used. This number reflects the "quality" or fertility of the semen in the straw and does not use any genetic component in it's calculation: http://wwsires.com/assets/updates/20...ption_Rate.pdf

    I went to a semen company annual meeting yesterday. As always, they declared they had the best bulls, which is no surprise at any semen meeting that I've ever attended. And the usual standard protocol is to put up lots of slides to show that they have the best bulls and why.

    One of the slides showed a comparison of the average SCR (sire conception rate) of the top 5 semen companies over the past 20 years. All companies have improved their SCR scores over the past 20 years due to better technology. But this company went from average to being SIGNIFICANTLY higher than all the other companies in the past 10 years. In explanation, the presenter stated that they had begun using a new improved extender 10 years ago and that was the main reason behind the increase.

    As always, I am a skeptic at these meetings. There is always a lot of "chest pounding" and I usually dismiss most of the "data" as being doctored in some way.

    I buy semen from a lot of companies, but there are two that I buy the majority of my needs. I'll call them Company A and Company B.

    I have been using PCDart DHI software for the past 12 years. So I have recorded hundreds of breedings and can pull up conception rates with the click of a button. So I looked at the past 12 months of data. I've used semen from both companies pretty equally (about 150 units from each one). Company A conception rate was 45% while Company B was 32%. This corresponded exactly with the slide I was shown at the meeting yesterday.

    So, where does this lead me? Conception rate is a BIG part of profitability. I need to get cows bred. Low conception means higher semen costs. Semen cost per pregnancy for company A is $34 vs. B at $47. Low conception rate also means more days open and longer calving intervals, which translate into hundreds of dollars in profit per cow difference.

    Where to go from here? I primarily use genomic sires as soon as they are available. These early release bulls do not have SCR numbers due to the delay of the collection of the data (must have 300 breedings in at least 10 herds,,,, then you need to wait at least 21 days to see if they conceived,,,,, then another 30 days for DHI processing,,,,, so at least 3 months from release to available data).

    Once solution is to wait on the data and not buy semen without a SCR score. Any bull can have fertility issues, so waiting may give the best results. But if everyone waits, we never get the data!!!! And our genetic progress can be delayed further.

    Another solution is to only buy from Company A and hope they continue to be the leader in conception rates. This cuts my bull choices in half and can also delay genetic progress. But in the short term, it should increase conception rate on the farm and profitability.

    Another solution may be to double inseminate when using Company B semen. Doubling the semen dose over a larger window should increase conception rate. The obvious downside is the increase in semen cost and you don't give Company B any incentive to improve their semen quality.

    Thoughts??? (sorry for the long post, but I'm curious to hear other opinions)
    Nature View Farms
    PolledJerseys.com

  2. #2
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    We use dc305, so have easy analysis of this as well. Last year I copied all available scr's into a spread sheet & averaged them per stud, then looked how that compared to conception of the 3 studs I use across 600ish cows with an overall conception rate of 42%.

    The results were similar, the best stud had the best rates here, & the worst had the worst. I didn't have near the spread you have tho. More like 45/42/40 on all non sexxed breedings.

    On my farm, & across the industry, conception is good, preg rates are up, days open are down, calving intervals are probably too short, cows(dpr) are more fertile & healthy, and hfr inventories are high.

    My conclusion was to continue to use the bulls that best fit my program & use stud or individual scr as more of a tiebreaker if at all.





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  3. #3
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    Racingfarmer,
    Thanks for the reply. 5% difference is still significant dollars. I agree that we still have plenty of heifers.

    I was looking at my records this morning as I bred a cow for the fourth time. I always try to use a different sire for each breeding until successful. But this cow had been bred to semen from company B all three previous attempts!!! No wonder I can't get her bred when one of those sires has a conception rate of 20% on my farm.

    I'm thinking of using company B sires on first service and then use company A on all subsequent breedings. If my averages remain the same, that will change my semen purchases from 50/50 to 75/25 in favor of company A. Because I only use polled Jersey sires, my selection is severely limited if I only go with one company.
    Nature View Farms
    PolledJerseys.com

  4. #4
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    Bull fertility is one of the primary things I look at. If they don't settle, that's the point?
    DiederichFarm
    "You are only as good as your next success, not your last" Sir Jock Stirrup

  5. #5
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    I definitely consider it. Iíve heard of large farms that buy 100-200 doses of a bull to try and then buy more if the conception rate is good.

    In my herd I see bull fertility similar to what the proofs say.


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  6. #6

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    I started using only bulls that are positive for SCR about a year ago. It has definitely made a difference in conception rate in the herd. Now I trry to use only bulls that are at least plus 1.5 on SCR. As someone stated earlier in the thread, if you don't get them pregnant, then what good is it to even AI the cow. And I know for 100% sure, that there is one stud that consistently has a higher conception rate. If it doesn't start with 7H, I really don't even think its worth putting the semen in the cow.

  7. #7
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    Just outta curiosity...what is the stud you guys are talking about with the higher conception rates?


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  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by Stan View Post
    Just outta curiosity...what is the stud you guys are talking about with the higher conception rates?
    I'm not sure why I didn't come right out and say it in my first post. If you look at all bulls (Holstein and Jersey) with a SCR rating, I believe that Select Sires (stud code 7) comes out on top of the fertility rankings on AVERAGE (all studs are going to have some duds).

    Here is the SCR ranking for conventional semen (not enough data for sexed) from December 2018 for the Jersey breed by stud ( http://greenbook.usjersey.com/Portal...Reports/20.pdf ):

    Accelerated (now owned by Select Sires): +0.89333
    Genex: +0.8875
    Select Sires: +0.55833
    Alta: +0.222222
    Revolution: -0.14
    Semex: -0.20256
    ABS: -2.0575

    And just to see if anyone has made improvement, here is the ranking by stud from December 2017:

    Select Sires: +0.5829
    Genex: +0.54
    Semex: +0.46129
    Alta: +0.2
    Accelerated: -0.03333
    ABS: -2.0209


    It's pretty obvious who is at the bottom of fertility in the Jersey breed currently. 2% below average fertility is nothing to be proud of. I am challenging all studs to up their game this year!!!!

    If someone has the Holstein numbers, please post them.
    Nature View Farms
    PolledJerseys.com

  9. #9
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    We use genex precisely because of the better conception. Regardless though, I don't use sub par bulls for conception. I only use them if they positive... I mean why decrease the odds of a pregnancy when it can be easily avoided. When we made this change in philosophy our preg rate increased 3 full percentage points.
    DiederichFarm
    "You are only as good as your next success, not your last" Sir Jock Stirrup

  10. #10
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    Interesting. About a year ago I started paying closer attention to that after I started noticing some bulls not working well. Iíve seen a slight improvement in preg rate and stopped seeing instances where missed pregnancies were always linked to the same bulls. That being said, Iím surprised SCR isnít factored into the price of the semen a little more.

    I use mostly ABS with some Semex and have never had much of an issue with one stud being better than another. Will definitely be paying attention a little closer going forward.


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  11. #11
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    I agree that SCR should be figured into the price. They should lower the price in order to get people to buy an inferior product. If everyone would look at SCR, the money will flow towards high SCR bulls and hopefully the message will get to the studs.

    In looking at the current ratings for the bulls I used last year as genomic samplers, I see a couple on the list with -7 SCR. I used 40 units of semen from each and ended up with 2 daughters from one and 3 from the other. Pretty pathetic. But at the time, there was no SCR data available for those straws.

    The next question is: will the next batch of semen from those bulls be higher fertility? Maybe. But again, certain studs have a reputation for being below average......
    Nature View Farms
    PolledJerseys.com

  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by JayHerron View Post
    I agree that SCR should be figured into the price. They should lower the price in order to get people to buy an inferior product. If everyone would look at SCR, the money will flow towards high SCR bulls and hopefully the message will get to the studs.....
    From what I've gathered, the pricing is pretty simple supply and demand. Supply is how much the bull is capable of producing. Demand is how much folks want his product. Supply can vary greatly between bulls. This would largely explain strange pricing, where a seemingly desirable bull is cheap, and a bull that I don't think anyone wants ends up being rather expensive. That expensive one most likely isn't generating much "stuff."

  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by kipps View Post
    From what I've gathered, the pricing is pretty simple supply and demand. Supply is how much the bull is capable of producing. Demand is how much folks want his product. Supply can vary greatly between bulls. This would largely explain strange pricing, where a seemingly desirable bull is cheap, and a bull that I don't think anyone wants ends up being rather expensive. That expensive one most likely isn't generating much "stuff."
    Interesting. I figured it was largely based on genetic merit, with new-release young high merit bulls being the highest price and going down from there. Maybe with some adjustments based on semen volume/quality and demand.

  14. #14
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    I never cared for the select sires rep in our area so we never bought anything from him. (Nor did he ever even stop) When select bought accelerated genetics, the accelerated rep was kept on by select and started to stop by. Turns out I’ve been missing a lot by just using Genex. We’ve been using some of the top tier jerseys that were originally from accelerated and I can say without a doubt they have settled better than ones from Genex. Natural heats and ovsynch alike.

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