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DairyNZ, AgResearch Ltd and Massey University

The problem: There has been a downward trend in NZ dairy herd fertility e.g. from 1990 to 2004 cows re-calving within the first 42 days of the seasonal calving period reduced by 10%. On top of that the NZ research of dairy herd fertility was fragmented and reached a point where it needed to be integrated. InCalf was identified as an attractive solution.

Key stakeholders: New Zealand dairy farmers, DairyNZ, Livestock Improvement Corporation,  veterinarians, farm consultants

Timeline: In 2002-2003 a report on the use of inductions to shorten calving period raised animal welfare concerns about the use of this practice. At the same time evidence of farm-to-farm variability in 3-week submission rates and first service conception rates prompted extension activities aimed at improving reproductive performance. KPIs and targets for herd fertility were developed, and the Dairy Australia InCalf programme was adapted for the New Zealand industry in 2006. This lead to the distribution of the InCalf Book for NZ dairy farmers to advisers during the introductory seminars in early 2008. InCalf resources and training to farmers were provided from mid-2008.

The aim of this case study is to identify characteristics of the ongoing InCalf programme, and recommend modifications involving incorporation of co-innovation principles and practices that enhance the value of the programme for dairy farmers. The major focus for the project going forward will be on one aspect of InCalf, i.e. on rearing of high quality heifers prior to entry to the milking herd.

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