Dairy Bio – A day on the green

Sep 22, 2017

The ability to access new technologies is essential for dairy farmers to keep the cost of production down.

DairyBio CRC and DataGene are two organisations that are steadily delivering solutions for the dairy industry in the fields of animal health, fertility, herd improvements and genetics.

Australian Dairy Farmers (ADF) and the Australian Dairy Products Federation recently attended the Dairy Bio CRC Open Day in Hamilton, Victoria. More than 150 dairy and livestock farmers, and service providers from all over Australia attended the Open Day to view how research programs are changing the way dairy farmers innovate on-farm.

Hamilton’s Agriculture Victoria research farm is the site where all the large-scale, field-based pasture activities are located for DairyBio, and it is the best place to see how innovations will deliver game-changing increases in pasture yield, persistence and quality.

Throughout the day we were informed of the world’s largest precision-planted ryegrass filed trial, viewed drones and ground vehicles with advanced sensor technologies, walked through glasshouse facilities with the latest forage innovations and shown drought-tolerance trials which could be a game-changer for farmers in the future.

One of DairyBio CRC’s major achievements is the invention of a hybrid technique for ryegrass breeding. This will unlock a 20 per cent yield advantage in hybrid ryegrass varieties and also make it easier for plant breeders to use genomic selection and add novel endophytes in new pasture varieties. The current modeling suggests that hybrid ryegrass could deliver a benefit of $300 per hectare to Australian dairy farmers.

These viable solutions are a great example of how industry and research sectors work together to deliver some of the most positive and permanent changes to dairy herds and dairy pastures.

ADF recognises the potential productivity benefits of these new technologies and the need to innovate to compete on the global stage. The adoption of these technologies is going to become increasingly important to help farmers remain profitable, improve natural resource use and facilitate adaptation to ongoing business pressures.

The Australian dairy industry has achieved considerable improvements in farm productivity through the adoption of new technology and will continue to find new ways to be more efficient, and environmentally sustainable while still remaining profitable over the long term.

David Inall

ADF Chief Executive Officer

 

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.




 

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

 

World Soil Day: Farmers, soil stewards

Dec 05, 2015

Saturday 5 December, is World Soil Day. The Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations kicked off World Soil Day of recognition in 2002, and we’re using the occasion to celebrate the role healthy soils play in building productive and profitable farms.

By getting the trace elements in the soil right, farmers on Australian dairy farms often find they have the potential to drive increased milk production higher.  

Regular soil testing is necessary to make informed decisions on fertiliser use and soil management and the interpretation of soil test results is key to making the most cost-effective fertiliser choice. Dairying for Tomorrow’s Fert$mart program includes a range of tools to help advisers and farmers get soil “right” and make informed, cost-effective fertiliser management decisions.

Australian Dairy Farmer’s (ADF) Natural Resources Policy Advisory Group Chair, Daryl Hoey said insufficient fertiliser negatively impacts on pasture growth. This means less pasture and means farmers have to increase supplementary feeding or reduce stocking rates. Too much fertiliser, or fertilising at the wrong time means wasted resources.

“The key is to have the balance in soil just right so that nutrients are available for optimal pasture growth and are not lost in run-off into waterways and dams,” Mr Hoey said.

Soil health can also be improved by the implementation of a well-managed effluent system. Effluent is a valuable resource for reducing fertiliser costs, increasing soil fertility, adding organic matter to soil and providing valuable nutrients and moisture to crops and pastures.

“We now have a better understanding of effluent management than ever before,” Mr Hoey said. “The industry has moved away from a waste product mentality to taking a resource utilisation approach and, as a result, not only do we have improved productivity on farm, we are leaving our soils in better condition now and for future generations.”

Australia's dairy farmers have always had a strong commitment to environmental sustainability with industry bodies such as ADF and Dairy Australia coordinating a range of industry programs to help farmers manage fertiliser use, improve soil health and minimise the impact of effluent.

The dairy industry’s sustainability framework Mr Hoey explained, underpins the whole of value chain effort to minimise the environmental footprint of dairy.

“The framework has been used to identify priority areas, goals and objectives for sustainability,” said Mr Hoey. “It sets the scene for industry programs like Fer$mart and farmer investment and practices to deliver better results for both farmers and the environment.”

“Dairy farmers have a real commitment to managing land and water responsibly, reducing greenhouse gas emissions and protecting natural resources for future generations,” said Mr Hoey. 

“And as a bonus, many farmers are finding that, with proper soil and fertiliser management, they can produce more feed at no extra cost.”

To find out more about the role healthy soils play on Australian dairy farms take a look here.


Select Tags