Article by: Hari Yellina
Dairy farmers in Australia are dedicated to providing the best possible care for their animals and to modifying procedures when it is to the greatest advantage of our livestock and the industry’s reputation. Since 2016, the Australian Dairy Industry Council (ADIC) has been adopting a policy to phase out the use of non-therapeutic or routine calving induction, with the assistance of Dairy Australia. The ADIC agreed in 2018 that all routine calving induction should halt on January 1, 2022. All non-therapeutic inductions were covered by the policy. The achievement was part of the Australian Dairy Sustainability Framework’s aim. The milestone was met on time, which is fantastic news for the industry. The service is no longer available in veterinary clinics.
This accomplishment may not come as a shock. According to vet data, just a few dairy herds used induction last year, and those herds only inducted a few animals. Nonetheless, it is a significant achievement. The implementation of this regulation should be hailed as a triumph of dairy industry collaboration and non-regulatory practise change. For many years, our industry has been under pressure from milk buyers and advocacy groups to phase out routine calving induction. Concerns are raised about the wellbeing of the premature calves as well as the cow if the procedure is carried out incorrectly. Routine calving induction was phased out in New Zealand in 2015, leaving Australia as the only Western country that still uses it.
Farmers, veterinarians, and processors convened with industry bodies to learn what was possible, and in 2015, a phase-out plan was agreed upon, with implementation set to begin in 2016. This was a process driven by the industry, with no regulatory or legal structures in place to ensure its execution. In order to amend this, a step-by-step structure was created allowing vets to induce up to 15% of a herd in 2016, 12 percent in 2017, 10 percent in 2018, 8 percent in 2019, 6 percent in 2020, 5 percent in 2021, and 0 percent this year. From 2015 to 2020, ADIC hired an independent consultant to contact vets to provide information about inductions, such as the number of cows induced and herd size. Reaching this milestone is a great achievement for our industry. It shows that we are proactive on animal welfare and able to meet the expectations of the community, our customers and consumers.