February 27, 2019
The University of Missouri's Foremost Dairy Research Center is among the top 10 university herds in the country, according to Holstein Association USA.
MU Extension dairy veterinarian Scott Poock said this puts the university dairy in an elite class of central U.S. herds.
Foremost Dairy is home to 430 Holstein and 40 Guernsey cows. Located west of Columbia, Mo., the operation encompasses 1,065 acres.
Missouri native James Cash Penney, founder of the J.C. Penney department store chain, donated money and a herd of prize-winning Guernsey cows for the dairy, which was named after Penney's prized bull, Langwater Foremost.
Today, faculty and students conduct on-farm research to learn how to improve milk output and efficiency while maintaining herd health.
Foremost began genomic testing on all calves about five years ago, says John Denbigh, superintendent of MU Foremost Dairy. He says testing and research pay off in better production and longevity.
The dairy’s total performance index, or TPI numbers, rose from an average of 1,800 to 1,900 to 2,000 to 2,100 since testing began, Denbigh says. The index considers feed efficiency, somatic cell score, calving ease, productive life and fertility.
"How the cow is put together allows her to accomplish those goals," he says.
Selective genetics improve the cow's foot, leg and overall strength for better movement. It also increases calving ease and, most importantly, creates a strong mammary system for better milk production.
Foremost, operated by MU's College of Agriculture, Food and Natural Resources, earned fame for Pastel, a Holstein heifer born there in 2014. The calf was one of 20 tested for the first time at Foremost using a genomic DNA panel.
With a TPI of 2,561, Pastel was rated as the second-best red carrier Holstein calf in the country. The calf sold for $25,500. All calves are tested now.
A couple of Pastel's sisters still live at Foremost. Learn more about the dairy at foremostdairy.missouri.edu.
Source: The University of Missouri Extension, which is solely responsible for the information provided and is wholly owned by the source. Informa Business Media and all its subsidiaries are not responsible for any of the content contained in this information asset.
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