A BOVINE reproduction-based roadshow is making its way across the State this week, as well-respected Western Australian veterinarian Dr Enoch Bergman seeks to aid beef and dairy producers in improving their herd’s reproductive performance.
Since his arrival in Australia from Colorado, US, Dr Bergman has been actively involved in Australian BVDV (bovine viral diarrhoea virus, or pestivirus) research.
In 2006 he established Australia’s first commercial laboratory for the diagnosis of animals persistently infected (PI) with BVDV.
Dr Bergman’s tour this week will explore options open to beef producers for the effective management and prevention of BVDV, as well as discussing the advantages of modern fixed time AI (FTAI) programs.
“I have dedicated my career towards finding the tools to develop cost-effective strategies to manage BVDV systematically in both beef and dairy herds,” Dr Bergman said.
“The talks will focus on helping the attendees to understand the manner in which BVDV is both propagated and maintained in beef and dairy herds, how the virus financially impacts them, strategies for systematically managing the disease, simple biosecurity protocols to keep their herds free and how to surveil for reintroduction.”
Dr Bergman also intends to explore the advantages of FTAI programs in commercial beef enterprises in regards to improving herd structure.
“FTAI allows busy beef producers to select elite genetics for their best and brightest genetics: their heifers,” he said.
“Traditionally terminally crossed to low birthweight bulls, semen from proven curve bender bulls can be utilised in heifers to manage calving problems proactively, condensing their calving pattern and producing retainable offspring.
“Further, FTAI can be utilised to manage lactational anoestrus, allowing producers to salvage late calving, genetically superior cows.”
Dr Bergman said Australian dairy enterprises also stood to gain from the implementation of modern FTAI programs, which could include generating a return on managing lactational anoestrus through the inclusion of progesterone releasing devices such as Cue-Mates in artificial breeding programs.
“There have been declining reproduction rates in dairies across Australia which rely heavily on heat detection to impregnate cows,” said Dr Bergman.
“FTAI removes the need for heat detection; it’s kind of like planning a date instead of just going out and meeting a person.”
Dr Bergman conceded that using protocols such as Ovsynch – which synchronises ovulation and permits a timed insemination – did increase the cost of a program, however the added benefits of such a program paid for itself.
“There is no waiting around to see if a cow is in oestrus and with Ovsynch, some that don’t show oestrus still fall pregnant,” he said.
“You need to balance it out; the costs of FTAI compared with the advantages like getting your cows pregnant and bringing their pregnancy forward, and improving production overall.”
Contact Alison Kelleher, IDEXX, 0407 375 002.