Following the lead of New Zealand, the Australian dairy industry has committed to phasing out the practice of calving induction completely, though an official time period has yet to be set. The practice of calving induction was originally introduced so as to align the dairy herd’s lactation period with that of the with feed supply and requires a veterinarian to prematurely abort a cow’s pregnancy, often resulting in the euthanisation of the calf.
While some still believe in the practicality of calving induction, figures show that the practice in Australia has halved since 2012, with approximately 1.3 per cent of the national herd now being induced. The reduction follows growing public concern for animal welfare as part of a broader interest in the origins and production of food.
In a move praised by national lobby group Australian Dairy Farmers [ADF], in June this year the New Zealand dairy industry implemented a voluntary ban on calving induction, the result of more than five years of planning. “Australian Dairy Farmers does not support routine calving induction and will work to phase it out through improved herd improvement practices, tools and technologies,” said a statement from the ADF.
Dairy farmers and representatives from the Australian Cattle Veterinarians, Dairy Australia and ADF have come together under the banner of Steering Group to develop an action plan to assist in the phasing out of the practice. As the local industry plans to set a date on the phasing out of the practice, estimates are currently being made that take into account environmental factors such as drought.