Most Australian farms record animal identity and performance information using commercial herd management software with about 42% enrolled in formal herd testing programs. Maintaining high quality animal performance data allows farmers to make the right herd management decisions for their businesses.
Research, conducted through the ImProving Herds project found that herd testing farmers used the herd test information to make more confident and informed routine decisions on farm. Some examples include:
- Drying off decisions – drying off poorer producers saved feed costs, and staggering drying off and milking good producers for longer could increase milk income.
- Culling decisions – milk production data combined with mastitis history and pregnancy test results were used to make more strategic culling decisions, ultimately resulting in a more profitable herd.
- Identifying and managing clinical and sub-clinical mastitis.
- Managing seasonal changes in the diet by quickly adjusting supplementation to maintain more uniform milk components.
- Breeding decisions – herd testing information gives access to cow ABVs so high genetic merit animals can be easily identified for joining to high value straws/sexed semen, ensuring sufficient replacements are bred from the best cows and increasing the rate of genetic progress. Using cow ABVs and herd testing data, breeding programs can be designed and monitored – allowing corrective mating, more rapid genetic progress and a more profitable herd.
Data that is delivered to DataGene’s Centralised Data Repository (CDR) is also used to advance animal performance through research and development the routine calculation of Australian Breeding Values and the routine reporting of national statistics.