Better genes, more milk
Genetic improvement has contributed to more than 32 per cent of productivity gains in Australian dairy herds over the past decade.
This is just one of the many insights available in the latest edition of the Australian Dairy Herd Improvement Report released recently by the Australian Dairy Herd Improvement Scheme (ADHIS) and the National Herd Improvement Association of Australia (NHIA).
ADHIS Chairman Adrian Drury said almost 30 years of investment in independent genetic evaluation by the Australian dairy industry has resulted in steady improvements in the genetic potential of our cows, and in dairy herd productivity.
"It's a fabulous achievement and every dairy farmer in Australia benefits from it when they use artificial insemination and Australian Breeding Values," Mr Drury said.
Most of the insights in the report are drawn from data which is collected through herd recording.
Some highlights from the latest report based on 2010/11 data include:
- Milk production by Australian cows is 55 per cent higher now than it was in 1990;
- Most dairy cows are bred via artificial insemination (69 per cent of herd recorded Holsteins, 67 per cent of herd recorded Jerseys and 91 per cent of herd recorded Australian Red Breeds);
- Herd recording is performed on about half (49 per cent) of Australia's dairy farms;
- On average, herd recorded cows produced 32 per cent more milk than non-herd recorded cows (Dairy Australia in Focus 2011 and ADHIS 11); and
- Each year, the improvement in genetic merit of Holstein cows is worth an extra 9.15 profit per cow per year ($11.32 for Jersey and $7.92 for Red Breeds).
A dairy farmer himself, Mr Drury said the management tools arising from the industry's investment in dairy genetics were used in his business on a daily basis.
"Like most Australian dairy farmers we use artificial insemination, progeny test sires, proven sires and herd recording results. These tools have been integral to our management for many years and their improvements over the years have had a direct impact on our profitability," he said.
"The Herd Improvement Report gives us an annual insight into dairy genetics and enables us to track these benefits over time," Mr Drury said.
ADHIS is an initiative of Australian Dairy Farmers' that receives the majority of its funding from Dairy Australia through the Dairy Service Levy.
The report can be downloaded from www.adhis.com.au or contact ADHIS to request a hardcopy, telephone (03) 8621 4240 or email firstname.lastname@example.org