August 2013

Cost effective herd improvement is something all cattle farmers seek. The August meeting of Women on Farms West Gippsland focussed on the contribution of artificial insemination (AI) of dairy cows and how this process has progressed the productivity of many dairy herds in our area.

At his Darnum property Rod Cameron of Cameron Genetics presented on how he developed his AI business, as well as on procedures and practicalities. Rod came into the field from a dairy farming background. Over fifteen years he has gradually worked up an enterprise which sees him in the classroom as well as on farms inseminating cows. In providing three day courses on AI, mainly to farmers themselves, Rod is able to share his knowledge and to help dairy farmers help themselves. The practical course includes reliance on a plastic model of a cow’s reproductive tract, so that new ‘technicians’ can refine their skills in such a manner that they can be observed and guided.

WOF members had some very apt questions and comments to make, given the dairy links in the group. Relevant to good conception rates are that cows must be in heat, in good physical and nutritional condition, that the semen is sound and that the technique is sensitive and accurate. Semen used by Rod is not collected locally but from other businesses which do the collection, both here and overseas. Holland, New Zealand the USA and Canada are regular sources. Rod explained that 95% of his business is with dairy rather than beef herds. He added that it is also now possible, for some considerable extra cost, to choose the sex of the semen – that is, more heifers and fewer bull calves can be planned.

As for his own cattle, Rods enjoys his herd of British White cattle. With their unusual markings, black ears, muzzle and teats, often with spots, these docile cows stand out in the paddock. Rod praised them for their easy breeding and calving as well as for their charming looks!

September 3 is the next meeting – to be held at Jindivick, with the emphasis on unusual plants and spring gardens.

Women of all ages are welcome to join Women on Farms. The key criterion is an interest in farming and farming women. There is no need to be actively farming to participate. For more details contact secretary, Hilary Steenholdt, ph.5997 7395 or go to our website at www.womenonfarms.org for the monthly program.

For enquiries about this article, contact: Mary Hughes, Ph. 03 5628 4195.