Over the next four weeks StockSense events will be held in Waikato, Manawatu, West Coast, Canterbury and Southland, with workshops for both junior and senior dairy farm staff.
July heralds the start of a new calving season. Dairy farmers nationwide begin their ‘busy period' when calves are born and set up as the future of the milking herd.
The junior workshop focuses on practical skills to get staff ready for calving, while the senior workshop focuses on the new requirements for humane slaughter on-farm and udder health.
Taranaki farmer, Tim DeBeer, attended last week's Stratford StockSense event and said the junior workshop was practical for developing calving skills.
"I'm new to dairy farming and it gave me a good heads up for what to expect over calving and how to prepare for it," says Tim.
"The session on the birthing process was really helpful. I learnt the signs and stages of labour, how to tell if the calf is presented properly for birth, how to use ropes to assist if the calf is in the wrong position and when to get the vet in.
"The sessions were interactive, but really clear and easy to understand so I got a heap of value from it."
He benefited from the tips for reducing stress over the busy season.
"I really like how the workshop provided advice for staying healthy over calving. I actually went out and bought a crock pot. Having hot meals ready when I get in late from the farm sounds like a good idea."
DairyNZ's animal husbandry and welfare team manager, Chris Leach, says in the senior workshop, farmers are updated on the recent welfare code change which prohibits the use of blunt force for euthanasia of calves, except in unforeseen emergencies.
"Most dairy cattle, including calves, are generally not slaughtered on farms by farmers anyway, but are sent to processing facilities. The amendments to the code of welfare make it much clearer what is an emergency and what is acceptable practice on farms when that situation does arise.
"Farmers learnt what humane options are available, what best practice looks like and skills training to ensure the very best standards of welfare are achieved on farm," says Chris.
"In the Healthy Udder session, most attendees went away with a draft policy and a procedure for managing mastitis in their colostrum herd. There were some really good discussions about strategies to reduce mastitis."
North Island events are held from 10am-2pm and South Island events are held from 11am-3pm. Participant numbers are limited and farmers must register online at www.dairynz.co.nz/stocksense. Events are free for all levy-paying dairy farmers and their staff and a free barbecue lunch is provided at each event.
07 859 4094