Dairy

Find an identification system that works for you

By Country News

Records must be kept for every calf – they must be accurate and complete.

The benefits of accurate records include:

● informed management and breeding decisions;

● less risk of selling calves with antibiotic residues;

● confirmation of age of calves at sale;

● evidence of control practices for calf diseases, including Johne’s disease; and

● ability to work out the costs of calf and heifer rearing.

The ability to confirm the identity of cattle and trace them back to their farm of origin is critical for the Australian dairy industry.

The ability to accurately identify calves assists farmers with initial breeding decisions and on-going health and production management.

A reliable and robust system of identification and traceability helps Australia gain access to export markets and assures customers of the food safety of
dairy products – meat and milk.

Finding the right system for you

A method for easy identification of animals from a distance is vital for an efficient calf-management system.

The general principle is that all calves should be readily identifiable to all staff at all times.

In practical terms this means staff can tell at a glance if the calf is a replacement, has received treatment or is destined for sale in the next couple of days.

Identify calves with a permanent identity tag as soon as practical after birth. Many farms use an NLIS tag and a farm tag.

Use more than one method if possible in case a tag is lost.

Make sure that all the tools for identifying calves are readily accessible from calving areas.

All farm workers need to understand the identification system used on your farm.

Non-permanent, short-term identification methods may consist of necklaces or a system of coloured paint markings.

Record any health issues

Good identification records mean every calf can be matched to its dam.

This basic information is useful for breeding management and recording the details of the birth is also helpful when investigating calf disease problems.

Problems during the rearing process can have their origins from birth.

For example:

● Scours may be associated with calves that did not receive colostrum quickly after birth; and

● Persistent lameness may be associated with calf injuries from an assisted calving.

It is also a good idea to record particular health issues next to any treatments given during the rearing period.

These records will help you to assess the efficiency of your rearing system and highlight things that you may need to change.

- Dairy Australia