Cut­ting valu­able time herd test­ing

Matamata Chronicle - - Rural Delivery -

The Christchurch earth­quakes have forced the hand of many Can­ter­bury farm­ers to do sin­gle sam­ple herd test­ing (as re­source con­straints tighten around the re­gion) but the prac­tice is some­thing that at least one Waikato farmer would highly rec­om­mend as a more efficient process any­way.

David Wil­son, who runs his dairy op­er­a­tion near Ti­rau, said he was happy with the re­sults from sin­gle (ei­ther morn­ing-only or af­ter­noon-only) test­ing.

‘‘We’ve got a com­bined herd, so we’ve got 720 cows split be­tween two ad­join­ing cow sheds,’’ Mr Wil­son said.

‘‘With big herd num­bers you’ve got to be more stream­lined; for us the sin­gle test fits into that cat­e­gory.’’

Mr Wil­son said he was more in­ter­ested in com­par­ing in­di­vid­ual cow data within his herd, rather than to the na­tional herd.

‘‘For me it’s a case of rel­a­tiv­i­ties within the same herd.

‘‘Con­sis­tency is what I’m af­ter – if PW (pro­duc­tion worth) data is 84 per cent re­li­able with dou­ble test­ing, as op­posed to 80 per cent with sin­gle test­ing, I’m not too wor­ried about that.’’

The sin­gle test also ap­peals as it is less dis­rup­tive to the nor­mal milk­ing rou­tine.

‘‘These days – with­out drench­ing – cows are less used to peo­ple walk­ing past their heads. If we can min­imise hu­man con­tact to keep the cows calm, we will.’’

The other ad­van­tage is that sin­gle tests are eas­ier on staff, who see herd tests as just an­other job that re­sults in more ef­fort and time in the dairy.

‘‘You can’t rush it. Our staff like test­ing in the morn­ing, that way it’s out-of-the­way,’’ he said.

‘‘We use the EZ Link sys­tem (an elec­tronic hand-held de­vice which scans the bar­code on the milk flask and links that sam­ple to the associated cow) be­cause it’s very sim­ple for our set-up.

‘‘For ex­am­ple, we don’t have to put the flasks in the cor­rect holes.’’

When opt­ing for herd test­ing ser­vices, Live­stock Im­prove­ment of­fered flex­i­bil­ity, said Jamee Thomas, prod­uct man­ager.

‘‘Our clas­sic test in­volves tak­ing sam­ples from both morn­ing and af­ter­noon milk­ings, while sin­gle sam­ple tests take one sam­ple from the milk­ing of the farmer’s choice.

‘‘While most of LIC’s 8000 herd test cus­tomers still opt for clas­sic tests, an in­creas­ing num­ber (now about 25 per cent) are choos­ing a sin­gle sam­ple test.’’

Ms Thomas said this was be­cause sin­gle tests halved the time spent herd test­ing, ‘‘plus they cost a lit­tle less’’.

About 800 sin­gle-sam­ple farm­ers are now also tap­ping in to EZ Link and Ms Thomas said these farm­ers were find­ing test­ing a lot more en­joy­able.

‘‘Farm­ers find it eas­ier be­cause there’s no sort­ing of sam­ples needed,’’ she said.

Most farm­ers now have one more herd test to go this sea­son. A sin­gle test may well fit many farm’s needs.

Ef­fec­tive: For cus­tomers that opt for a sin­gle test, time and ef­fort is saved dur­ing herd test­ing, and EZ Link fur­ther stream­lines the process.

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