Upward trend in dairy cow fertility

GERALD PIDDOCK
Last updated 08:16 28/01/2014

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New industry data shows that New Zealand dairy farmers were successfully bucking a long-term trend of declining dairy cow fertility.

LIC and DairyNZ figures showed that the average six-week in-calf rate on dairy farms around the country has increased by 3 per cent since 2010 to 65 per cent, which is worth around $110 million in additional on-farm profit.

This figure was calculated on a conservative $5.50 payout using DairyNZ's InCalf gap calculator.

The data was sourced from DairyNZ's fertility focus analysis of 7000 LIC herds, which record their herd data in the co- operative's MINDA herd management software.

DairyNZ chief executive Tim Mackle was optimistic that the new data signalled the start of a real turnaround in an issue that has proved a hard nut to crack for the industry internationally.

"I'm really encouraged by the latest analysis and what New Zealand farmers have achieved. It's showing some real results off the back of our co-ordinated effort with the InCalf programme and its adoption by the industry."

Mackle said the challenge ahead was how to sustain this direction.

"For those farmers who are making good progress, the task ahead is to keep up the good work. For others who are not seeing the same improvements, the key thing is not to give up. Review your plan and make sure you are tackling the right issues."

The goal for farmers during mating is to get as many cows as possible in calf in the first six weeks of mating because it meant they would calve within a similar six-week period and start producing milk and income for the farming business.

LIC chief executive Wayne McNee said this increase was worth $150m to those farmers that made these improvements in 2012, based on recent payout levels.

He said there was at least $400m in profit to be made if the average 6-week in-calf rate reached the industry target of 78 per cent.

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- Waikato Times

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