High fertility rates are crucial to the success of all beef breeding enterprises, and pregnancy testing is a key herd management tool that can help boost a producer’s productivity and profitability.
However, it can often be difficult and expensive for producers to have their cattle tested in the required time frame by a veterinarian, particularly in remote areas.
Queensland producers are also at a competitive disadvantage to their counterparts in the Northern Territory, NSW and Victoria where pregnancy testing by non-veterinarians has always been available.
That’s why AgForce has been working on reducing regulation to enable lay pregnancy testers to operate legally in Queensland.
Lay pregnancy testing is a service that is widely used by many producers, like myself, because the management of my herd does not lend itself to a vet.
Let me be very clear – this is not about taking away business from vets or reducing standards. It’s all about ensuring there is increased access to reliable and cost-effective pregnancy testing across Queensland.
AgForce has secured funding from Meat and Livestock Australia to develop a professional accreditation scheme that we have branded TestRight, for lay pregnancy testers and we are determined to develop a system that satisfies producers, industry stakeholders and the broader community.
We have been and will continue to work with the Australian Veterinarians Association, the Cattle Veterinarians Association and the RSPCA to ensure the program meets expectations and the highest standards of animal welfare are achieved.
The TestRight scheme will provide a competent and accountable service.
Producers will be able to go onto a website and see who is accredited in their area, what their level of experience is and how other producers rated the service provided, this will include accuracy rates.
Increasing herd reproduction rates is one of the three key variables that increase the profitability of the northern beef herd. MLA’s seminal Northern Beef report by Ian McLean and Dr Phil Holmes consistently showed increasing herd reproduction by as little as 1 per cent (an extra weaner per 100 females) will increase herd productivity by around 1.5kg beef per animal equivalent.
While Queensland’s cattle herd is currently at a low ebb after years of drought, we want to have this new professional accreditation scheme in place before the herd returns to normal levels so producers can take full advantage and our industry can continue to grow strongly.
Will Wilson is AgForce’s cattle board vice president.