Dairy herd testing

31 May 2007

Testing your dairy herd has just got easier now that the Regulations, supplemented by the Standard have been revised to allow the sampling process to take place only once a day.

The Standard for Dairy Herd Testing (NZS8100:2007), combined with the Regulations administered by the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry, provide a legislative and practical framework for sampling and measuring a cow’s milk output and the transmission of the resulting data to the Core Database

Standards New Zealand worked closely with a range of key sector representatives to revise the existing Dairy Herd Standard. Improvements to the Standard bring it up to date with Regulations, on-going improvements in technology and changes in the statistical models used for animal evaluation, allowing greater flexibility in herd testing practice.

Nelson Procter, Project Manager at Standards New Zealand says, ‘By amending the Standard to support the 'test day' Animal Evaluation (AE) model, herd owners have greater flexibility to measure their cows’ performance and maintain the data.’

Key benefits of the revised Dairy herd testing Standard:

  • Milking herd sampling may be undertaken at either the AM or the PM milkings;
  • Amendments allowing testing of only part of the herd have also been incorporated;
  • Herd owners can identify cows that are either productive, unproductive or have unacceptable somatic cell counts in the current lactation;
  • Herd owners can assess the likely productivity of sire's and dam's offspring.

‘Information on a cow’s production is collected and stored in the Core Database, along with data which allows genetic tracking and performance ranking.  Organisations and individuals may then use this data to identify high output performance and correlation with breeding lines,’ says Nelson.

There has been a significant decline in herd testing with a loss of 15 % since 1998. By increasing the flexibility of herd testing, it is envisaged that the revised Regulations and Standard will help to reverse this downward trend without affecting the integrity of the New Zealand Dairy Core Database. In particular, it is hoped this change will encourage some large herd owners, who would not otherwise herd test, to do so.

Under the Herd Testing Regulations, access to the core database is controlled by the Access Panel, whose members are appointed by the Minister of Agriculture.  Access is granted when the Access Panel is satisfied that access, will either be beneficial for, or will not harm the New Zealand dairy industry.  

For further information please contact Oliver Bates, Communications Advisor, DDI 04 498 5997, email oliver.bates@standards.co.nz