Routine Calving Induction* Phase-out

Posted on Thursday, March 03, 2016 - Category: In the News

Australian dairy farmers are dedicated to providing a high standard of care for our animals, and to changing practices when in the best interests of our livestock and to protect the reputation of our industry.

The Australian dairy industry wants to be proactive on measures to support excellent animal welfare outcomes and to meet the expectations of the community, our customers and consumers. Failure to meet these obligations, risks the introduction of onerous and unrealistic regulations and/or damage to our reputation and markets.

In April 2015, following a series of meetings with farmers, vets and processors, the dairy industry agreed to work towards the phase-out routine calving induction nationally. Subsequently, the Australian Dairy Industry Council (ADIC) has introduced a target for 2016 to limit routine calving induction to 15% of cows per herd.

This target applies unless an exemption is granted. In 2016, exemptions may be granted either by implementing a herd fertility management plan or by obtaining dispensation for exceptional circumstances beyond the control of the herd manager. An 'Oversight and Engagement' Panel will consider requests for exemptions and grant approvals as appropriate. Whilst there is no legal requirement on dairy farmers to achieve the 15% target in 2016 the dairy industry is seeking to achieve industry-wide practice that is over and above the legal requirements and is confident farmers will adopt the recommended voluntary industry targets as the phase-out progresses.

Progress will be monitored and reviewed to inform the revision of annual targets until the phase-out is achieved and no routine calving induction without exemption for exceptional circumstances beyond the control of the herd manager are performed. The industry will work with farmers, vets and their advisers to ensure annual targets are achieved. This approach is similar to the successful New Zealand strategy where routine calving induction was phased out over a period of time using progressively reduced annual limits. 

The ADIC and Dairy Australia will continue to work with farmers, veterinarians, state dairy farmer organisations, processors and other stakeholders, to ensure all timeframes and targets are workable and achievable. We recognise that this involves a significant management change for some farmers.

As the Australian Cattle Veterinarians play a key role in calving induction, the industry has frequently consulted these experts. In mid-February there was a workshop for cattle veterinarians servicing dairy farms where routine calving inductions are performed. The workshop provided a forum to discuss the approaches and support required to implement the revised industry policy on routine calving induction and the need to cease late inductions.

Key items discussed were:

  • existing fertility programs such as InCalf, InCharge and Repro Right and additional assistance;
  • the implementation of fertility management plans;
  • the dispensation process; and
  • ongoing monitoring and reporting templates.

The workshop recognised that the tools necessary to improve herd fertility and to phase out routine calving induction are available for both vets and farmers but that it will not be an easy process and engagement across the industry throughout the whole process is critical. Vets who were unavailable at the time of the workshop are being contacted by the Australian Cattle Vets and Dairy Australia with information about the phase-out of routine calving induction.

A particular concern recognised by the industry has been the use of late calving induction.

Late inductions (performed within 4-6 weeks of the due calving date) provide no overall reproductive benefit for the herd and should not be performed except for the welfare of the cow or her calf. Early pregnancy testing is required by these practices to make sure late inductions are not occurring.

Further information on the phase out of routine calving induction can be found on the Dairy Australia and Australian Dairy Farmers websites.

*Routine calving induction is all non-therapeutic inductions.


 

 

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