ADHIS Update: 2016 Feeding the Genes results

Jun 13, 2016

 

 

 

The 2016 Feeding the Genes study, conducted by Dr John Morton, for ADHIS, investigated interactions between sire genetics and feeding systems on: 

  • milk solids production;
  • and the cow’s chance of lasting in the herd.

The milk production results were clear. The study found that in all feeding systems, the daughters of high index (BPI, HWI or TWI) sires produce more milk solids than daughters of low index sires. 

In terms of survival, the daughters of high index (BPI, HWI and TWI) sires last longer than daughters of low index sires in all pasture-based feeding systems. The scale of effects of sire index vary by index and feeding system:

The HWI has larger effects on longevity than BPI or TWI.

In low bail feeding systems the daughters of high BPI and HWI sires last longer than daughters of low index sires.

In moderate to high bail feeding, partial mixed ration (PMR) and hybrid feeding systems, the daughters of high index (BPI, HWI and TWI) sires last longer.

In total mixed ration (TMR) systems the daughters of high HWI sires last longer.

The findings support the take-home message that herd managers should select high index sires whose ABVs are aligned with the breeding objectives for their herd, regardless of their feeding system.

Read more about the results of this exciting research in this factsheet or contact Michelle Axford on 0427 573 330 or maxford@adhis.com.au for more information.

ADHIS Update: Dairy cow fertility trends improve

Apr 04, 2016

 

After 20 years of declining dairy cow fertility, the genetic trend has turned around and improved every year since 2011. It is now about 5% higher than cows born in 2011, and similar to cows born in 1996.

 

This finding and others are reported in the latest Herd Improvement Report, published recently by the Australian Dairy Herd Improvement Scheme (ADHIS) and the National Herd Improvement Association of Australia (NHIA).

Michelle Axford from ADHIS said this was an example of the gains that can be made through increased emphasis of fertility in Australian selection indices, particularly in the Balanced Performance Index (BPI) and Health Weighted Index (HWI).
 
“We can expect further gains as the focus on fertility in the indices has increased further in the past couple of years,” she said.
 
“We are now seeing the direct benefits on farm. Cows with higher daughter fertility ABVs get back in calf sooner – that is they have higher 6-week in calf rates.”
 
Michelle said the simplest way to improve the genetics of herds for fertility was to choose bulls from the Good Bulls Guide or app with a high Daughter Fertility ABV (>104). She said recent research had given dairy farmers more choice for bulls with better fertility ABVs and more confidence in those bulls.
 
“The reliability of the Daughter Fertility ABV has improved significantly and there are more bulls with much higher Daughter Fertility ABVs to choose from. This is the outcome of collaborative work between ADHIS and the Dairy Futures CRC,” she said.
 
To find out more about the changing dynamics of Australian dairy herds, download the Australian Dairy Herd Improvement Report 2015 from www.adhis.com.au. For more information contact Michelle Axford at ADHIS, ph (03) 8621 4240 or maxford@adhis.com.au.




 

2016 PAG nominations now open: don’t miss out!

Mar 01, 2016

Are you a member of Australian Dairy Farmers (ADF) interested in making a contribution to policy for our industry? There are two weeks left to register your expression of interest in joining one of ADF’s Policy Advisory Groups (PAGs):

  • Markets, Trade and Value Chain;
  • People and Human Capacity;
  • Animal Health and Welfare;
  • Farming Systems and Herd Improvement; and
  • Natural Resources.

PAGs play a key role in setting business objectives for our industry and driving policy formulation. They help to ensure dairy interests are properly represented at a domestic and international level.

ADF President, Simone Jolliffe said the role of the PAGs was critical to policy formulation for the long-term future of dairy.

“We face many challenges as an industry and have always relied on the vision, passion and participation of people within dairy to help find viable solutions,” said Mrs Jolliffe.

ADF PAGs recommend policy settings to the ADF via the National Council and also act in an advisory capacity providing feedback to Dairy Australia, state dairy farmer organisations (SDFOs) and other bodies like the National Farmers Federation and the Australian Dairy Products Federation.

Mrs Jolliffe welcomed and encouraged direct involvement from dairy farmers to drive policy in the right direction.

Expressions of interest close Friday 18 March 2016. For more information and to receive an application form contact schahine@australiandairyfarmers.com.au.


 

New target for routine calving induction in 2016

Jan 25, 2016

Key Points 

  • National policy to phase out calving induction 
  • Improved breeding programs to lift fertility and support farmers through the policy change
  • Learning from NZ approach
  • Targeted assistance and advice to be provided to farmers impacted

Caring for cows is always a key priority for Australian dairy farmers and our industry. The industry is dedicated to providing a high standard of care for our animals, and to changing practices when in the best interests of our livestock. 

In April 2015, following a series of meetings and consultation with farmers, vets and processors the dairy industry agreed to phase-out routine calving induction nationally.

Revised Policy

Australian Dairy Farmers (ADF), Dairy Australia, vets and processors have since been working on implementing the revised policy which is:

“ADF does not support routine calving induction and will work to phase it out through improved herd improvement practices, tools and technologies.”

Calving induction is already reducing in Australia and the dairy industry’s breeding programs such as InCalf and the improvement of fertility by genetic selection are making a difference.

A Steering Group, including dairy farmers, representatives from the Australian Cattle Veterinarians, Dairy Australia and the Australian Dairy Products Federation (ADPF), was established to progress the phase-out.

A data survey of veterinary practices performing inductions was undertaken in 2015. The results confirm estimates from previous farmer surveys that the number of cows induced is declining. It is estimated that in 2015 less than 1.5% of the national herd were induced (approximately 24,000 cows) however there is considerable variation between farms and regions.

The industry is now working to reduce even further the number of cows induced.

Target for 2016

After reviewing the 2015 induction data, ADFwill introduce a target for 2016 that routine calving induction will be limited to a maximum of 15% of cows within a herd unless a dispensation has been granted.

The 15% limit will apply unless a fertility management plan has been implemented or dispensation is granted for exceptional circumstances beyond a farmers control such as herd health issues, severe weather events (floods, fire), AB failure as well as other issues.

An 'Oversight and Engagement' Panel including representatives from ADF, the Australian Cattle Vets and ADPF has been formed. The panel, with support from Dairy Australia, will establish guidelines and consider requests for exemptions exceeding the 15% target set for 2016. Whilst there is no legal requirement on dairy farmers to achieve the 15% target 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.

Farmers will apply to the Oversight and Engagement Panel via their vet for special dispensation to carry out inductions in excess of the 15% limit for routine calving inductions.

The Steering Group will work with the Oversight and Engagement Panel to monitor progress and review the target each year in order to establish updated annual targets.

Industry Programs

Improving herd fertility is a fundamental requirement to reduce the need for routine calving induction and it also delivers many benefits for farm profitability and resilience. The industry is working closely with veterinarians and reproduction advisors to ensure advice and services are available to assist farmers with fertility management.

Industry programs such as InCalf, the Repro Right network and InCharge Workshops will be enhanced and the industry will provide targeted reproduction advice to those farmers most in need.

New Zealand

The New Zealand dairy industry has phased out routine calving induction over a period of time and has banned the practice as of 1 June 2015. The industry is liaising with counterparts in New Zealand to understand and learn from their approach; in particular the setting of annual limits with a dispensation process.

Late Calving Induction

A particular concern recognised by industry has been the use of late calving induction. ADF is aware that several veterinary practices no longer perform late calving inductions, as they provide no reproductive benefit. 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.

ADF will continue to consult with farmers, veterinarians, state organisations and other stakeholders to ensure that the timing, process and outcomes are right for animals and farmers.

*Routine calving induction is all non-therapeutic inductions

 

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