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Beyond Borders - Winter 2013

Mar 23, 2016




Beyond Borders is a magazine designed to promote dairy genetics, technology and management published by Semex.

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    Winter 2013

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    What if you could breed a disease resistant herd?Semexs patented Immunity+ sires

    are identied as having a high

    immune response capability. With a

    25% heritability, this genetically

    armors their offspring and gives your

    herd the ultimate in disease defense







    Feet & Legs


    Low Production





    Culling Reason

    10%higher than

    third lactation & older cows

    You can expect conception rates in your first lactation cows to be about






    Genetics for Life.

    In August we introduced you to Genetics for

    Life. At Semex this is more than a campaign

    or a new slogan it represents both where

    weve been and where were going. And, it

    is a reflection of what youve told us youre

    looking for in your genetic solutions.

    For over a decade, Semex has been

    supporting immune response research at

    the University of Guelph in Canada under

    the direction of Dr. Bonnie Mallard, BSc

    (Agr), MSc, PhD, Professor Immunogenetics,

    Department of Pathobiology. This research

    has resulted in a new product at Semex

    known as Immunity+ sires.

    With heritability comparable to productivity

    traits, Semexs Immunity+ sires will produce

    cattle with a broad based resistance to

    the bacterial and viral based pathogens

    that cattle are exposed to on a daily basis.

    Additionally, their daughters will produce

    colostrum that passes on more antibodies

    and they will respond better to vaccination


    This is an industry first. And, Semex is

    proud to exclusively offer a product that will

    dramatically change the way our clients look

    at developing their own operations genetic

    strategies, says Brad Sayles, Semex Vice

    President Global Marketing.

    We invite you to read more about Immunity+

    sires and all more about what Semex has

    to offer in this newest edition of Beyond

    Borders. And, we hope that you enjoy reading

    the Semex story and that like us, you believe

    in Genetics for Life.

    BEYOND BORDERS IS A MAGAZINE DESIGNED TO PROMOTE DAIRY GENETICS, TECHNOLOGY AND MANAGEMENT PUBLISHED BY SEMEX.Comments or submissions to the editor should be forwarded to Brenda Lee-Turner, Semex, 130 Stone Road West, Guelph, Ontario, Canada N1G 3Z2. tel: 519-821-5060, fax: 519-821-7225; email: [email protected], Genomax, Genomax Plus, Repromax, ProMate, ReproMix, Premier, HealthSmart, ai24, ShowTime, .25Plus, CVG, Robot Ready, Calving Ease and Immunity+ are registered trademarks of Semex.



    Jersey Success



    First Lactation


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    GPA LPI +3237






    StanleycupMischiefMr MarvelousAtticusLavanguard

    BrawlerBigstoneLauthorityJordanSterling*RCJett Air



    Genetics for Life is all about

    delivering the best possible product

    to our clients, and Genomax sires

    are just that. The rigorous selection

    process to select Semexs Genomax

    lineup has resulted in some of the

    most in-demand progeny proven bulls

    in the world. And, they are proof

    positive that Genomax bulls should

    be used confidently to maximize

    genetic gain.


    GPA LPI +3039

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    Jay Shannon, Semex Global Dairy Solutions Manager

    Have you ever had cows that just never seemed to get sick? Its almost as if these cows were invisible. They didnt get noticed because you never needed to give them extra attention. These cows were exposed to the same environmental conditions as other cows, but they appeared to have an inborn defense system that prevented infection and disease. What distinguished these cows and made them stronger than their herd mates? They had what is called a higher immune response.

    Its fair to say that most, if not all, dairy producers would love to have more healthy cows. Unfortunately, the modern cow operates under an intense set of demands, and a continuous exposure to pathogens makes her more susceptible to disease. The incidence rates of many infectious diseases such as mastitis continue to rise, leading to additional treatment and labour costs, delayed conceptions, reduced production,

    discarded milk, more culls and deaths, higher replacement costs and reduced efficiency and profitability. A good herd health and vaccination program is certainly key to achieving a healthy dairy herd, but producers know that genetic selection for a healthy, resilient cow would be a great compliment to these programs.

    Unfortunately, current genetic traits have a very limited impact on dairy cow health with few, if any, being a definitive selection for health. Traits such as Productive Life/Herd Life and Somatic Cell Score (SCS) are good indicative traits, but not pure health traits. Its also important to remember that health traits have only a 2-10% heritability, making them extremely difficult to improve genetically. Additionally, disease diagnosis and data collection is inconsistent, making proofs for individual disease traits difficult.


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    Over 15 years ago Semex recognized that dairy producers needed a more broad-based approach to disease resistance. Seeking a way to genetically improve the overall immunity of dairy cows, Semex invested in research for high immune response (HIR) technology under the direction of Dr. Bonnie Mallard, Professor of Immunology in the Department of Pathobiology, at the University of Guelph in Canada.

    Now, Semex has acquired the exclusive rights to test our sires for their overall immune response. This new and innovative technology has resulted in Immunity+ sires, a new, patented product line. These sires have a high immune response, meaning they have a more robust immune response that fights both viral and bacterial diseases. This higher immunity boost is passed on to their daughters and as a result, these daughters have a greater ability to resist disease and remain healthy contributors to the herd.

    By using Immunity+ sires, producers can start to incrementally reduce the disease incidence in their herds with each generation. This is achievable because immune response is highly heritable. Research has shown that immune response, as measured under the HIR technology, has a heritability of 25%. This heritability is comparable to other genetic traits such as milk production and conformation, and is far higher than the heritability of current health traits.

    Immune response is controlled and directed by a complex network of over 2,000 genes. The acquired immune response encompasses two distinct measures of immune response, the cell-mediated immune response; and the antibody-mediated immune response. Together, they provide a balanced defense against both viral and bacterial diseases.

    In the research conducted at the University of Guelph, females from a number of herds had their immune response tested and then compared with disease incidence data. Cows with a high immune response had a lower disease incidence. In a large Florida herd, high immune response cows had 27% fewer cases of mastitis, 17% fewer cases of metritis and 32% fewer cases of retained placentas compared to herd average. In all the herds tested, the high immune response cows had 19-30% fewer

    incidences of those diseases compared to their herds average. It is predicted that high immune response cows should also possess added protection against a wide range of other viral and bacterial diseases such as neospora, tuberculosis and digital dermatitis to name a few. Preliminary research shows that a high cell-mediated immune response is associated with the mycobacterial pathogens that cause Johnes disease.

    In addition, high immune response cows have been shown to have a more robust response to commercial vaccines. This helps to improve the vaccines effectiveness and places even more value on a comprehensive herd health and vaccination program. In another University of Guelph study, the high immune response cows produced higher quality colostrum compared to average or low cows. This means that high immune response cows not only pass on their high immunity genes to their offspring, but they also provide added protection to their calves through higher quality colostrum.

    The net economic benefit of a high immune response cow is $124/cow/year over the herds average cows. When trying to define the advantage that Immunity+ bulls provide to their daughters, we must account for the fact that 50% of the daughters genes are received from the sire, and the trait is 25% heritable. By applying these factors with known principles of genetic transmission, daughters of Immunity+ sires are expected to have 4-8% less incidence of disease. This enables dairy producers to begin to reverse the

    negative trends of disease incidence and to start building a path to a healthier herd. On average, Immunity+ sires will pass on $80 of extra profit to their daughters in addition to the economic value coming from their other genetic traits.

    In December 2012, Semex released nine proven Immunity+ Holstein bulls and 32 Genomax Immunity+ Holstein bulls. In the Jersey breed, there was one proven Immunity+ bull and

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