January 2016 President's Message

Jan 25, 2016

Welcome to the New Year. I hope you have all had the chance for a short break at least, and are ready to work together to tackle the challenges and opportunities that 2016 brings.

In recent years, Australian Dairy Farmers (ADF) has strengthened dairy’s ties with Canberra to raise the profile of the issues that matter most to our farmers. ADF has maintained our reputation of acting apolitically, being accessible to all politicians, and being willing to listen.

This year we will continue to build this profile, while simultaneously building on our capacity to deliver value to members.

So far in 2016, key members of the ADF team have visited members in central New South Wales. In February our CEO will visit Western Australia – to talk and listen about priorities for the year ahead. These are the first of many 2016 interstate meetings to follow.

I encourage you to take the opportunity and introduce yourself to our team. The passion and commitment that the ADF staff has to help achieve a stronger future for our industry is evident, and we are all prepared to listen to your thoughts, ideas and constructive feedback.

The beginning of the year has been challenging for farmers. Extreme weather conditions brought drought or very dry conditions in Tasmania, West Victoria, South Australia as well as savage bushfires in Western Australia. ADF is seeking to assist its state members with recovery efforts. I commend the efforts of WA Farmers, Western Dairy and Dairy Australia, in providing practical support and counsel to the affected farmers in WA.

Events like these are a timely reminder that so many aspects of our business are affected by elements beyond our control. ADF is committed to ensure that farmers have the information and resources they need to take control of what they can. Dairy Australia also has a great resource of tools and information to assist in preparation and recovery.

In February, ADF will host an environmental scanning and industry planning workshop with key stakeholders such as our state members and Dairy Australia. These sessions will aid in setting our advocacy priorities for 2016, to establish a sound policy platform which ensures we can capitalise upon growth opportunities delivered by 2015’s advocacy.

I look forward to getting out and about in order to meet with as many members and non-members as possible over the course of 2016 to ensure ADF can continue to deliver value for the industry.

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

 

Mistreatment of animals unacceptable to Australian dairy farmers

Dec 01, 2015

On 30 November 2015 video footage prepared by New Zealand animal rights group ‘Farmwatch’ aired on national television in New Zealand. The footage exposed incidents of appalling treatment of calves at different points along the New Zealand bobby calf supply chain.

The Australian dairy industry has been shocked by the cruelty shown in the footage. Any mistreatment of animals, including this cruel behavior, is completely unacceptable.

Australian Dairy Farmers (ADF) and its farmer members take their responsibilities for animal welfare seriously and are committed to continuous improvement in their animal husbandry practices. All animals, including calves must be treated with care.

This footage in no way represents reality for the majority of people in the Australian dairy industry responsible for calves and cows. We want to reassure our customers and consumers to know we are actively engaging with farmers, manufacturers and transporters to ensure such practices do not happen on Australian dairy farms.

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 the 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 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 regarding this matter, please see the DairyNZ and Federated Farmers joint statement here 

Sustainability Framework recognised with Banksia Award

Nov 20, 2015

The Australian dairy industry has been recognised for its ongoing commitment to sustainability at the Banksia Sustainability Awards held in Sydney on November 13.

The industry was presented with the Food for Sustainable Thought Award and was a finalist for the Natural Capital Award for work achieved under its Sustainability Framework. Chair of the Sustainability Framework Steering Committee, Chris Griffin accepted the award on behalf of the industry.

 

“The Australian dairy industry is committed to achieving ongoing improvement to ensure a sustainable future for the next generation of farmers and dairy consumers,” Mr Griffin said.

“We thank the Banksia Foundation and the judges involved for recognising our commitment to a sustainable future and our progress so far.”

An important part of the Australian dairy industry implementing the framework is for customers and the community to follow our performance and progress,” Mr Griffin said.

“We welcome the opportunity to share the evidence of our progress against key targets on our farms and in the manufacturing sector.”

An initiative of the Australian Dairy Industry Council (ADIC) in collaboration with Dairy Australia, the Australian Dairy Industry Sustainability Framework takes whole-of-chain approach to sustainability from feed production to manufacturing, retail and packaging.

Endorsed by industry in 2012, the Framework outlines the industry’s commitment to enhance livelihoods, improve wellbeing and reduce our environmental footprint. 

To ensure dairy is recognised worldwide as a responsible, responsive and prosperous producer of nutritious food, the Framework sets 11 economic, social and environmental targets to be achieved by the year 2020.

The third Sustainability Framework Progress Report is due to be released in February 2016 to benchmark how the industry is tracking towards achieving these targets, including supporting case studies to back these findings.

 


 

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