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

 

Industry sustainability commitments recognised

Jun 14, 2016

Keeping Australian dairy in business for the long term. This was the catch-phrase of the Australian Dairy Industry Sustainability Framework when it was first endorsed by the Australian Dairy Industry Council (ADIC) in 2012.

This long term thinking is especially relevant today, says the Chair of the Framework’s Steering Committee, Chris Griffin, a Gippsland dairy farmer.

“The Australian dairy industry is facing unprecedented challenges, yet securing our industry’s triple bottom line approach to sustainability remains as important as ever,” Chris says.

“Although the industry’s immediate priority is to support dairy farmers through the recent step downs, the Framework helps us keep an eye on the horizon. Importantly it tracks our progress and drives practice change where necessary to ensure the industry is sustainable for the long term.”

In June, the ADIC was recognised for its sustainability framework by the United Nations Association of Australia (UNAA) with its 2016 Organisation Leadership Award.

Judges said that the Framework was “exceptional and inspiring, particularly its whole-of-supply-chain focus; rigorous targets and reporting; impacts to date; stakeholder and community involvement; and communication”. They also recognised the Framework’s potential to act as a model for other whole-of-industry approaches for an even broader impact.

Further acknowledgement of the value of the Framework and support for dairy farmers’ commitment to sustainable production comes from Ian McConnell at WWF Australia, a member of a stakeholder reference group for the project, the Dairy Sustainability Consultative Forum.

“The value of the Framework is helping the dairy industry to know where the pressure points are coming from,” says Ian.

“By being in front of the issues, the industry can better shape its response. And when issues do emerge, such as pricing or producer profitability, it can be in more control and shape the conversation.

“It’s not just about the milk. The Framework helps Australian dairy to tell the wider story about the industry and its producers.”

Whenever a dairy farmer takes steps to improve their business or their practices, or reduces their environmental impact, they are contributing to the industry’s progress on sustainability under the Framework,” says Chris.

“The challenge is to make sure we are focussed on targets that will deliver the best outcomes for the industry, the community and the environment.”

For more information, visit www.dairysustainabilityoz.com.au

 

March 2016 President's Message

Apr 04, 2016

2016 is proving to be a challenging year for dairy farmers. Australian Dairy Farmers (ADF) recently visited members in New South Wales, South Australia and Western Australia, and across the country farmers are confronted with low milk prices, increased input costs, and dry weather conditions.

This continued volatility is a reminder of how dependent farming is on a lot of things which are outside our control.

Dairy farmers are realists and they are resilient business operators. Adaptability has become critical to successful dairy business ventures. Realistic solutions frequently involve working to address the issues we can control, while also accepting that some things are outside our reach. What those solutions look like will differ from one business to another.
 
The Sustainable Farm Profitability Report produced by the Australian Dairy Industry Council and Dairy Australia last year provides some useful tactical management advice to help safeguard businesses during this challenging period.
 
Through our discussions with both State and Federal Governments ADF continues to advocate for a more competitive business environment, and ensure access to the resources essential to dairying. Dairy industry advocacy has seen vital progress of late with the introduction of an ‘effects test’ as well as a review of the proposed ‘backpacker tax’ and bringing in more flexible water policy. These are important achievements that will help deliver a more profitable and sustainable industry in the long term.
 
Dairy Australia also has important resources to assist in preparation and recovery from different conditions. Services provided by programs such as the Tactics for Tight Times provide a good vehicle for analysing the individual business and developing solutions.
 
Integral to this future is ensuring we protect what matters, by working to safeguard the health and wellbeing of our workforce. In recent meetings, both processors and farmers have highlighted this issue as crucial to the future of our industry. I look forward to identifying ways in which our industry can support our people’s physical and mental wellbeing with many of you at the Australian Dairy Industry Council’s Business Breakfast in April.
 
With the ongoing challenges our industry faces exacerbated by drought and tough seasonal conditions, I encourage you all to look out for one another and provide assistance where you can.

 

Simone Jolliffe

ADF President

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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