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.
Jan 25, 2016
- 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.
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.
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.
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
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
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
Jan 19, 2016
Since bushfires began burning in Western Australia (WA) in the week of 4 January, fires have significantly affected the Waroona-Harvey dairying region. Now three weeks on from the devastation, recovery assistance for farmers is the primary focus.
To support the recovery effort, WAFarmers has established a hay drive and is managing a relief appeal to collect cash donations for affected farmers. One
hundred per cent of the funds raised through the WAFarmers Fire Appeal will go directly to farmers; ensuring financial assistance is available to farmers
for tasks including the rebuilding of fencing and the purchase of feed.
WA’s Dairy Industry bodies, including WAFarmers and Western Dairy, have commenced preliminary assessments. There are approximately 20 dairy farms with direct fire damage and many more continue to be impacted by loss of power, burnt pasture and feed supplies.
Fencing is an immediate concern, with the fires destroying over 800 kilometers of farm fences, as well as loss of pasture and newly sown crops. There have been few reports of dairy stock loss to date.
Funds received through the WAFarmers Fire Appeal will be used directly to benefit farmers. Farmers do not have to be a member of WAFarmers to be able to receive assistance from the funds. We encourage the public to show support for the WAFarmers Fire Appeal.
The GoFundMe account can be accessed here.