Improvement in cow fertility
24 Jan 2014
New figures released by LIC and DairyNZ show the average 6-week in-calf rate on farms around the country has increased by 3% since 2010 to approximately 65%, which is worth around $110 million in additional on-farm profit (based on a conservative $5.50 payout using the InCalf gap calculator).
The data was sourced for New Zealand Dairy Statistics from DairyNZ’s Fertility Focus analysis of some 7000 LIC herds which record their herd data in the co-operative’s MINDA herd management software.
Cow fertility is fundamental to dairy farm productivity with the goal to get as many cows as possible in calf in the first six weeks of mating because, one year later, it means they will calve within a similar six week period and start producing milk and income for the farming business.
DairyNZ, LIC and other organisations have been working together to raise farmer awareness of the potential to improve productivity and profitability from improved in-calf rates.
DairyNZ Chief Executive Tim Mackle is optimistic that the new data signals 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,” he says.
“The challenge now is how to sustain this effort and positive trend going forward. 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.”
LIC CEO Wayne McNee agrees it is a step in the right direction, and commends farmers for the improvements - but says a significant opportunity still remains for many.
“When it comes to herd reproduction, it’s the farm’s practices all year around have the biggest impact come mating time – and that will be the key for many farmers to unlock improved productivity and profitability.
“Based on more recent payout levels, this latest increase is worth more like $150 million to those farmers who made improvements in 2012, and there’s still at least $400 million on the table if the average 6-week in-calf rate can get up to the industry target of 78%.”
Wayne McNee said LIC has developed a simple guide to help farmers apply a year-round approach to get more cows in-calf quicker at mating time.
It’s called the 6 Week Challenge and more than 800 farmers and rural professionals have already signed up to take part.
“The 6 Week Challenge supports DairyNZ’s InCalf programme and the work of vets and farm consultants all over the country, and provides farmers with a practical guide that outlines everything they need to do in the season to ultimately improve their herd’s reproductive performance and increase their 6-week in-calf rate.”
For more information about how to improve herd reproductive performance, visit www.dairynz.co.nz/incalf or www.6weeks.co.nz for more about LIC’s 6 Week Challenge.