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.


ADHIS Update: The power of herd improvement in the palm of your hand

Jan 20, 2016

A world-leading smart phone app developed by the ADHIS and Dairy Australia to help farmers choose bulls to meet their breeding objectives is now available to download, free for dairy farmers and advisors.

The Good Bulls app has been designed in close consultation with dairy farmers and advisors and builds on the popular Good Bulls Guide. The app, which can search from over 20,000 bulls, allows farmers and advisors to search, filter, short list and export bulls based on Australian Breeding Values and Australia’s three indices.

ADHIS Extension Officer Sarah Saxton has led the team that helped create the Good Bulls app. She said the app will be an invaluable tool to access bull information anywhere at any time, so farmers can take charge of their herd.

“The Good Bulls app really puts the power of herd improvement in the palm of your hand by giving users on-the-go access to over 20,000 bulls and the ability to enquire about prices with their supplier at the click of a button” Ms Saxton said.

“It’s quick and easy. Select your index and shortlist bulls based on the traits you want to improve in your herd using the Good Bulls app”

The Good Bulls app answers a strong desire by farmers and advisors to be able to filter and sort bulls based on their preferences and to improve profit in a fun and easy way.

Sarah says “We conducted over 20 hours of one on one interviews with a range of farmers and advisors in the design of the app so we are confident this is going to be an essential tool for the industry”.

The Good Bulls app is available for both iPhone and Android phones.

For details on how to download the app visit www.adhis.com.au/goodbulls

Expression of Interest for Genetics Focus Farms

Sep 17, 2015

A new project, ImProving Herds aims to demonstrate how innovative science, on farm testing and data driven decision-making deliver increased profits. To achieve this a collaborative team of Australian and international dairy industry organisations and experts has united to explain existing value and explore future services.

ImProving Herds is now recruiting 25 genetics focus farms to demonstrate the value of genetic improvement. Find out more about how you can be part of this exciting and dynamic project here

ImProving Herds is an innovative herd improvement RDE&E project funded by the Gardiner Foundation and supported by a range of industry organisations. Express your interest before 30 September 2015.


Breeding program evolves with genotyping

Sep 08, 2015

Having all of his young stock genotyped has completely changed the way Rob Cooper manages the breeding program of his 1300+ split calving Holstein herd at Manilla, North West of Tamsworth, NSW.

“We rear about 600 heifer calves a year and will soon reach our target herd size of 1600. We will soon have a significant number of surplus replacements,” he said. 

Rob says the combination of surplus replacements, sexed semen and genotyping will allow him to place more selection pressure on the herd to increase its Health Weighted Index (HWI) and use better genetics over the top group of heifers.

“We’ve got our first set of genomic results and I’m waiting on the results from another two batches sent off from more recent calving,” he said.

Rob says having the results has opened up new management approaches that weren’t previously possible. “Because it’s so new, our approach is still a work in progress, but the possibilities are very exciting,” he said.

Rob’s breeding objective is to improve functional type (udders, capacity, rump and feet and legs), fertility, mastitis, protein and fat.

Rob uses the Balanced Performance Index (BPI) to select sires. However when it comes to reviewing the heifers’ genomic results, he is most interested in their Health Weighted Index (HWI) because it is a better reflection of their genetic potential for fertility and mastitis resistance.

“At this stage I’ve split the herd into three groups – the top 50%, bottom 25% and the remaining 25% – based on Health Weighted Index but I am keen to improve herd fertility so I was curious to see how they re-ranked on that.”

Michelle Axford from ADHIS said that genomic breeding values for heifers were equivalent to those based on seven lactations of herd recording data.

“Obviously it is a lot more useful to have that information at an early age than waiting nine years,” she said.

Farmers have found a variety of ways to use the results to improve genetic gain in their herds.

“Some, like Rob are using genomic results to increase selection pressure on their herd. Others, especially breeders of elite genetics are using genomic results for embryo transfer; to identify elite heifers for flushing and inferior animals to use as recipients. It is becoming more common to have whole co-horts of heifers tested to inform mating and culling decisions,” Mrs Axford said.

If you’d like to send hair tail samples off for genotyping, contact Zoetis, Holstein Australia or Jersey Australia.  

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