New InCalf leader on a mission

22 Jan, 2019 10:00 AM
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Tim Humphris: Cows that get in calf drive the system.
If we can't measure something how do we know what our targets are.
Tim Humphris: Cows that get in calf drive the system.

Tim Humphris was appointed leader of the InCalf program in July 2018. He has been working in northern Victoria for the past 25 years, 10 as a dairy farmer and 15 as a dairy vet.

"It's a role that is dear to my heart," Mr Humphris said. "I've been part of the National Herd Fertility Project since its inception in 1996 and herd fertility is a particular passion of mine."

The InCalf program assists farmers and advisers to develop an effective, profitable strategy to achieve farm targets for herd reproduction whatever calving system is used.

As a farmer, Mr Humphris knows how critical successful reproduction is for farm businesses. "Cows that get in calf drive the system, the more cows in calf we get the harder the system is driven," he said.

"If I have an excess of pregnant cows I am able to choose which cows I sell, I can choose how many cows to milk, I can choose how many replacements to rear. If I don't have enough pregnancies all of these choices are taken away from me."

Mr Humphris said the continued development of the daughter fertility Australian Breeding Value (ABV) by DataGene is one of the best new tools farmers had available to improve reproduction.

Yet farmers, shouldn't forget about other key management areas, which had an immediate benefit on fertility including:

  • Calf and heifer management.
  • Body condition and nutrition.
  • Heat detection.
  • Artificial insemination technique and semen handling.
  • Bull management.
  • Transition cow management and cow health.
  • Helping farmers recognise the importance of collecting and using data is one area that Mr Humphrs will be focusing on in his new role. "If we can't measure something how do we know what our targets are," he said. "How do we know when we have reached them?"

    Mr Humprhis said the six-week InCalf rate had been an excellent figure to benchmark reproductive performance between herds but was not a term all farmers were comfortable using.

    Another of his aims is to develop a language around fertility to which farmers, veterinarians, AI technicians, nutritionists can all relate.

    Dairy farmers have a number of ways to get involved with the InCalf program including getting in touch with a Repro Right trained adviser or enrolling in and InCharge module run by InCalf and Regional Development Programs.

    The InCalf program also has a number of resources available including the InCalf book, which gives farmers the best available information they need to effectively manage reproduction and achieve their farm profit and business goals. 

    For more information, visit dairyaustralia.com.au/InCalf.

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