Animal modules within the Grazing BMP program have been delivered in workshops within the Fitzroy, Burnett Mary and Burdekin basins over the past three years.
Feedback results collected from 266 participants indicate that the workshops have enabled producers to identify areas within their beef business that require improvement through innovative management.
Participants reported increased awareness of the standards presented in the Animal Production and Animal Health and Welfare modules since attending the workshop. The top four were these:
- role of bull breeding analysis and selecting bulls for genetic improvement
- management of heifers to improve breeder performance
- implementing a health management program
- planning for biosecurity and quarantine.
Bull breeding analysis and selecting bulls for genetic improvement
Bull breeding analysis is a tool that can be used by cattle producers when purchasing bulls.
It is now summarised as Bull Check, which is a comprehensive analysis of the bull performed by a vet. The analysis assesses all aspects of the animal’s structure, which is given a score out of 10.
Semen morphology is also assessed to identify any defects that may be occurring that can affect the ability of the bull to get calves. The complementary tool to Bull Check, Estimated Breeding Values (EBVs), should be used as an estimation of the genetic gain that the bull can offer to the herd of cows he is joined to. More information about Bull Check and EBVs can be found on the FutureBeef website www.futurebeef.com.
Participants at the accelerated grazing best management practise workshop in Emerald.
Management of heifers to improve breeder performance
Many producers who attend the Animal workshops having trouble getting their maiden heifers back in calf for the second time.
Keeping heifers in a separate mob and not boxing them with the main breeder herd until they calve out for the second time is a tool that can be used to improve reproductive efficiency within first calf heifers.
Heifers can then be able to be managed more intensively. Practices such as early weaning of calves and supplementary feeding of the heifers to maintain body condition during lactation can lead to improved conception rates.
Of course this strategy depends on how practical it is to keep the heifers separate. More information about heifer management can be found on the FutureBeef website www.futurebeef.com.
Implementing a health management program
Vaccination of cattle can be compared to insurance cover, it can cost money but it can save producers huge economic returns in protection against diseases that decimate calving percentages and production gains.
Some producers vaccinate their cattle for a wide range of diseases, while others don’t vaccinate for any diseases. The aim of the workshop is to provide producers with a guide on which vaccinations that should be given to bulls, breeders and calves. Vaccination protects herds who are naïve to disease. More information about cattle diseases can be found on the FutureBeef website.
Planning for biosecurity & quarantine
Biosecurity is an important issue for the wider industry and individual beef businesses. Farm biosecurity covers disease, pests and weeds.
A farm biosecurity plan is a document that lists procedures that protect the farm from biosecurity issues. It enables the producer to negotiate with mining companies and set standards for all visitors to prevent weed infestation and spread.
A strategy to minimise disease is quarantining new animals entering the property. The quarantine area needs to be a place where animals can be monitored to ensure that they are in good health and don’t spread weeds through faeces. Animals should be quarantined for a minimum of seven days.
Any unusual disease symptoms observed in livestock should be reported to the relevant authorities, it is imperative that Australia keeps its disease free status for market access. More information about farm biosecurity can be found on www.farmbiosecurity.com.au.
Standards within the animal modules enable producers to assess where they stand in comparison to industry standards.
The animal modules enable the industry to demonstrate to the wider community that they take animal welfare seriously and they are willing to embrace new ideas to increase productivity through sustainable management pathways.
The program has reached a wide audience of producers from many different areas who are passionate about promoting their industry and improving their bottom line.
The program links directly to extension and producers are encouraged to work with DAF staff to further investigate avenues to improve their management.