News

New video series focuses on fertility on Australian dairy farms

By Dairy News Australia

A new series of on-farm video case studies is putting the fertility on Australian dairy farms into the spotlight.

Released by Dairy Australia, the new videos focus on the practices of seven NSW and Victorian farmers with medium to large herd sizes with varied calving patterns.

Northern Victorian farmer Simon Portwine, who is the subject of one of the videos, said he had focused on improving fertility as it was a key driver of profit on his 330-cow dairy farm.

Selecting for fertility, ensuring a rising plane of energy for cows at joining and using collars for automatic heat detection were strategies Mr Portwine has put in place after learning more about fertility through Dairy Australia’s InCharge program.

For Bamawm dairy farmer Nathan Gledhill, fixed time AI, bigger heifers and building a younger herd are some of the strategies he has put in place to improve reproductive performance on the 900-cow dairy farm he manages.

With help of his vet and AI technician, who have both reinforced their skills and knowledge on fertility through Dairy Australia’s Repro Right program, Mr Gledhill has seen his six-week in-calf rate on the 60/40 split calving herd go from 60 per cent to 70 per cent over five years.

Dairy farmers Nick and Emma Strong calve 400 cows all year-round on their NSW south coast dairy farm.

By maintaining days in milk around 160 days, they drive higher production from the same feed inputs, capitalising on the fact that the fresher the herd, the greater the production and the greater the profit.

Mr Strong believes that vital to achieving days in milk around 160 days is the maintenance of good herd fertility, which is driven by the quality of data collected and analysed and the veterinary service that attends the farm regularly.

He also places a great deal of importance on staff training in areas such as heat detection and the culling of non-performing cows based on production, fertility and health data.

Phil Tate, on the south coast of NSW, milks 580 cows that calve all-year-round.

He has achieved major improvements in the reproductive performance of the herd by making hard culling decisions to significantly lift the 100-day in-calf rate and 80-day submission rate.

The other vital driver he concentrated on was to get the days in milk below 175 days so that he could get cows in calf early, thus improving profitability.

Mr Tate maintains good fertility in the herd by keeping excellent data records, engaging professional veterinary services on a regular basis, having good facilities, an efficient transition cow management program and placing emphasis on staff training, utilising Dairy Australia courses in areas such as nutrition, transition cow management and pastures for profit.

For more information and to watch the video case studies, visit: dairyaustralia.com.au/farm/animal-management/fertility