Cutting valuable time herd testing
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.