Dairy to phase out calving induction
Posted on Monday, July 20, 2015 - Category: In the News
After extensive consultation with dairy farmers, industry and veterinary experts, Australian Dairy Farmers (ADF) have agreed to adopt a new policy, which will see the phase out of routine calving induction nationally.
Calving induction is used as a management tool on a declining proportion of Australian dairy farms. For some farmers, it provides a way of ensuring as many animals as possible are milking at similar times.
Earlier this year, over 35 industry stakeholders, the majority of whom were dairy farmers as well as veterinarians, met to discuss and develop a national policy recommendation regarding calving induction. Following the industry forum the ADF National Council met and agreed to modify ADF’s policy position to the following:
“ADF does not support routine calving induction and will work to phase it out through improved herd improvement practices, tools and technologies.”
The dairy industry’s breeding programs such as InCalf and the improvement of fertility by genetic selection are making a difference and the use of calving induction is reducing. In 2014, fewer than 2% of the national herd were induced (approximately 24,000 cows) and the industry is now working to reduce the need to use this management tool even further.
A Steering Group, including dairy farmers, representatives from the Australian Cattle Veterinarians, Dairy Australia and ADF, was established to develop an action plan. The Steering Group has met twice; developing communications and data collection materials that have been distributed to cattle veterinarians to help progress the phasing out process.
The industry is liaising with counterparts in New Zealand to understand and learn from their approach; in particular the setting of annual limits with certain exemptions.
A particular concern raised at the industry forum, was the use of late calving induction. ADF is aware that several veterinary practices no longer conduct late calving inductions, as they provide no reproductive benefit and should not be performed. Early pregnancy testing is required by these practices to make sure late inductions are not occurring.
ADF is working with farmers, veterinarians, state dairy farmer organisations and other stakeholders, to ensure the phase out works for both animals and farmers. ADF will continue to consult with industry and farmers and is committed to ensuring that the timing, process and outcomes are right for all involved.
Caring for cows has always been a key priority for Australian dairy farmers - they are dedicated to providing a high standard of care for their animals, and to change their practices when in the best interests of their livestock.