Farm Life - Animal Health and Welfare

May 26, 2017

Farm animal welfare is a significant issue in Australia and overseas, and consumers are increasingly interested in knowing that a high standard of animal welfare is maintained throughout the supply chain of products they purchase.

Healthy and well cared for cows are a priority for every dairy farmer as it is central to having a successful and sustainable dairy farm.

There are many on-farm practices that have been part of dairy farming for hundreds of years and we must ensure we have a social license from consumers to continue the practices. We recognise that some things that happen on-farm can be confronting to people who are not farmers and may not understand the reason behind them. It is up to us to ensure the public understand what we do, why we do it and that at the core of every farmer is the health and wellbeing of their animals.

As an industry, we take our responsibilities for animal welfare seriously and are committed to continuous improvement of our animal husbandry practices. All farm animals must be treated with care.

We want our consumers to know farmers, processors, transporters and meat processors actively engage with each other to ensure all cows and calves are treated humanely.

The Australian dairy industry supports the Australian Animal Welfare Standards and Guidelines for Cattle as well as the Land Transport Standards and Guidelines. These were developed in partnership with the animal welfare groups and Government, and provide the industry with a clear vision that the welfare of all animals in Australia is promoted and protected by the adoption of sound animal welfare standards and practices.

We are continuously working to improve animal welfare standards to ensure we meet consumer and public expectations and expect all persons managing livestock abide by these standards to ensure best practice is observed on-farm.

It is a priority of the dairy industry to regularly review policies and practices in line with public perceptions and to invest in ongoing national training and education to ensure farmers constantly strive to go above and beyond the agreed standard.

ADF, in collaboration with Dairy Australia, and other industry partners continue to work with industry, Government and animal welfare groups such as the RSPCA to ensure the wellbeing of our herds in all farming systems.

John McQueen

Interim ADF Chief Executive Officer

 

With the election over, it's time to get things done

Jul 15, 2016

After ten days of vote counting, this week Australian Dairy Farmers (ADF) congratulates the Coalition Government on its re-election.

As an industry, dairy has enjoyed a constructive relationship with the Coalition throughout its previous term, and we look forward to continuing that spirit of this engagement.

With the election behind us, promises made can now be translated into concrete action.

Although the ministry will not be sworn in until next week, ADF has already met with the Department of Agriculture’s advisors to progress the roll out of key support measures announced in the Dairy Support Package. In particular we continue to highlight the urgency in providing immediate access for all affected farmers to Concessional Loans and the Farm Household Allowance support.

Importantly, concerns raised by farmers who have been working to access these measures, including by share farmers, are being taken seriously and will continue to be progressed with the government.

We will continue to work with the Coalition and the opposition to address other key priorities for the dairy industry also, including implementing an effects test to better balance market power throughout the supply chain, invest in rural research and development to build resilience, ensure secure access to sustainable water resources and support a national strategy to address technical barriers to trade.

Over the coming weeks, the ADF policy advisory groups will continue to meet in Melbourne to cement our priorities for the new government. Building industry resilience, as well as addressing the lack of transparency throughout the supply chain are on our agenda.

July has begun the same way June came to an end - with wild weather and floods challenging many dairying regions and low milk prices meaning revised budgets and planning across all farms.

As we work together to weather these storms we must remember that we are a resilient industry with a long, sustainable future ahead. Our profitability and therefore resilience as an industry depends greatly on the support of the Australian public.

We must continue to remind the community that dairy farmers – regardless of the challenges they face are good business people, who care for their cows, work to enhance the wellbeing of their people and that every efficiency we make on farm has ties to minimising our impact of the environment.

David Basham

Acting ADF President

AHA Review of Bovine Johne's Disease

May 24, 2016

Throughout 2015 and early 2016 Animal Health Australia (AHA) has been conducting a review of Bovine Johne’s Disease (BJD) management in Australia. The review has progressed with consultative forums, meetings of a review panel, discussion papers and a draft framework document.

Information on the AHA Review of BJD can be found via http://www.animalhealthaustralia.com.au/news/latest-information-about-the-national-bjd-strategic-plan-review/

Dairy farmers were represented on the Review Panel by ADF and Dairy Australia and State Dairy Farmer Organisations have had input through the consultations. Farmer representatives have been present at both the forums and at the consultation meetings held.

AHA released the final framework document in February 2016 - BJD – Where to from here? A Fresh Approach to the Management of Johne’s Disease in Cattle: Management Plan for Cattle Production Conditions.

Major changes in the management of BJD outlined in the final framework document include:

The removal of zoning;

  • Reliance on producers to protect themselves from disease (a biosecurity approach);
  • A market driven approach where producers undertake practices dependant on market requirements;
  • An evaluation of the CattleMAP; and
  • Development of tools and education material.

The dairy industry has provided collective input and feedback throughout the process. The final framework document is a very high-level document and dairy industry representatives have indicated that further work is necessary to provide detail on how any revised scheme would be implemented.

A Communications Plan and an Implementation Plan for the new BJD approach are being worked on and industry representatives are involved in this work. As a result of the above, in consultation with State Dairy Farming Organisations, recommended revisions to the Dairy Score developed by ADF and DA have been endorsed.

The National Dairy Industry BJD Assurance Score will continue to be an important tool for dairy farmers but some refinements may be needed to facilitate an alternative to Cattle MAP for dairy farmers.

The draft revised Dairy Score is based on the current criteria that supports risk-based trading and provides an extension tool to help farmers understand how they can achieve higher levels of assurance. The draft revised Dairy Score focuses on biosecurity measures, particularly hygienic calf rearing, with incorporation of herd tests at the higher levels to monitor and verify the integrity of the Score.

Work is also happening on making the Johne’s Disease Calf Accreditation Plan (JDCAP) available across Australia. The JDCAP is currently only implemented in Victoria and recently New South Wales.

The JDCAP is a voluntary comprehensive audited program that has been implemented on some dairy farms in Victoria and has been a compulsory part of participation in the Victorian Test and Control Program since 2003.

For further information, please do not hesitate to contact the ADF Office via (03) 8621 4200.

 

Caring for cows and calves is our first priority

Mar 23, 2016

Dairy farmers know that providing a safe, nutritious product starts and ends with caring for cows and their calves. This includes providing them a healthy diet, regular medical care and the right living conditions.

Part of keeping dairy cows and calves healthy involves separating calves from cows within their first 12 to 24 hours. This is to ensure the calves receive adequate colostrum, are protected from illnesses, which can be spread by manure from adult cows for example.

Once removed from the cow, calves are raised under shelter with suitable bedding in a clean, safe and warm environment.

In cattle the placenta of the cow keeps the maternal blood supply separate from that of the unborn calf. This prevents the transfer of antibodies from the cow to the calf before birth. For this reason, the calf is born with limited ability to fight disease.

By bringing the calves indoors, the farmer can make sure they receive at least two litres of colostrum at the first feed and another two litres within the first 24 hours of life. This ensure the calf can build its immunity. Calves left to suckle are less likely to build up their immunity.

Individual care is the key to a healthy and content calf.

Although many dairy farmers would like to raise male calves on farm, there are currently very limited alternative markets to sell the male calves to. The most common option for farmers, is to sell them as ‘bobby calves’ between 5 and 30 days of age. Another option is to rear the calves and sell them as dairy-beef. This option requires significant investment by farmers with the need to provide additional housing, feed and labour.

Our industry is always searching for alternatives, including through sexed-semen to reduce the number of male calves born but this does mean we need to have a market for the additional female calves. Further, we continue to explore market options for the sale of male calves.

Dairy farmers and the dairy industry understand that the practice of killing calves for the dairy-beef market is confronting. We take care of all animals on-farm to the best of our ability and in line with best practice; no calf is ever treated as a low-value by-product. Once calves leave the farm, we expect that they will be cared for and treated in a humane way.

The Australian dairy industry supports the draft Australian Animal Welfare Standards and Guidelines for Cattle as well as the Land Transport Standards and Guidelines. These were developed in partnership with animal welfare groups and Government, and provide industry with clear animal health and welfare standards.

The dairy industry expects that all persons managing livestock abide by these standards and it is committed to working with farmers to ensure best practice is observed on farm.

ADF, in collaboration with Dairy Australia, and other industry partners continues to work closely with transporters and the meat industry to ensure our cows and calves are well looked after. We also continue to work with industry, Government and animal welfare groups such as the RSPCA to ensure the wellbeing of our herds in all farming systems.

For further information on the Animal Health and Welfare Standards and Guidelines, click here. To view the publication, “Rearing Healthy Calves – How to raise calves that thrive”, click here.


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