Tasmanian Member Forum Report

Posted By Sara Merckel  
07:00 AM

Members and guests were welcomed to NHIA’s very first Tassie meeting held in the picturesque location of Deloraine. In a busy afternoon session, NHIA was able to seek member contribution into new and ongoing initiatives, with a full update provided below.

NHIA CEO, Sara Merckel reported NHIA has been working to its new strategy for just under 2 years. As part of this process when NHIA hold in person board meetings, it hosts an afternoon session with members. It gives members and the Board the opportunity to get to know each other better and share industry news.

NHIA forums are about collaboration and contribution. It is also invaluable for NHIA to listen, learn and gather information to see where and how NHIA can add value to member businesses. This enables NHIA to utilise member expertise and facilitate the sharing of their knowledge and experience and expertise to benefit all members and the wider herd improvement sector.

NHIA Training Update

NHIA has a pool of partner networks for members to work with for entry level AI training who all adhere to a preferred industry standard.

Through its work with this partner network a need has been identified for more trainers to cope with the increased training demand. NHIA is supporting this by carrying out a review in conjunction with members who have been assisting with TAFE courses and are keen to develop their training skillset by obtaining a Certificate IV in Training and Assessment.

NHIA is happy to work with other industry trainers and members and would like individuals and organisations who could benefit from this approach to reach out to Sara Merckel on 0411 819 165 or at [email protected].

NHIA's partner network:

  • Dairy Tas – Elizabeth Mann
  •  Farmwest – Nick Brasher
  • Go Tafe – Megan Dodd
  • Orion Training – Suzie Manwill
  • SA Tafe – Mark Thompson
  • South Regional TAFE (WA) –Fiona Jones
  • Southwest TAFE – Bec Toleman
  • TAFE Gippsland – Louise Underhill

Tasmanian Training Update

An update was provided by Liz Mann of Dairy Tas. 

Liz has been working in the Tasmanian Dairy Industry for 20 years delivering face-to-face farmer training.

In 2020, with the borders closed, Tasmania faced an issue with having enough AI technicians to service the industry. With funding from the state government Dairy Tas now delivers an accredited ethical AI training course. In the past 12 months Dairy Tas has delivered 4 courses, training 40 farmers and prospective AI technicians. The program was developed, and courses delivered in collaboration with Tafe South Australia, local AI technicians and farmers.

Information on upcoming courses can be requested from [email protected] or [email protected].

NHIA Looking ahead in 2023

NHIA looked at the overwhelming amount of information and resources on AI training and herd improvement coupled with the need for a central industry resource centre to provide easy access to this information.

NHIA is now in the final states of developing a Herd Improvement Learning Hub – a one stop shop for all herd improvement learning needs.  

Upon completion, the HI Learning Hub will be actively promoted to industry by NHIA. The platform will house information on topics, a central place to access information, training resources and more, all on an easy-to-access web portal. Short training sessions for those new to the industry and more advanced level employees, including latest developments and hot topics, will also be hosted on the HI Learning Hub. Watch this space for further news!

NHIA is developing this for your business, to save members time on internal training.

Level 2 AI Course

Currently industry sends people overseas for level two type training to get technicians AI practise into a larger number of cows. NHIA has identified the need to model something locally in Australia within its partner network. This is a work in progress as we need to ensure that any in-country courses adhere to Australian animal ethics legislation.

Relaunch of Advanced AI Certification

Herd improvement service users who use Advanced AI Certification holders will have a guarantee that their technicians are highly qualified and experienced.

To become an Advanced AI Certification holder, technicians must:

  • Carry out 500 insems per year under supervision of a qualified person or service provider
  • Be nominated by their employer
  • Sit an online exam on Herd Improvement Learning Hub
  • Connect with an Assessor
  • Complete an on-farm skills assessment

Once attained, Advanced AI Certification will be valid for a period and automatically renewed for technicians that can show (via their employer) they have carried out an average of 1,500 insems per year. This program will be launched soon.

Also Coming Soon – Semen Handling

NHIA is reviewing semen handling training with a pool of industry trainers. Part of this review involves improving access to this training. NHIA is looking to make this easier and will also drive the message of best practice in herd improvement.

Beef Focus Group – NHIA Chairman Anthony Shelly

NHIA plans to move forward with a stronger focus on beef. Work is currently underway, following a meeting of beef focused herd improvement service suppliers, to put in place a beef steering and advisory committee.

Key areas where NHIA can support the beef side of the herd improvement industry are:

  • Representation - provision of a platform for the sector to present a strong united voice to key stakeholder audiences
  • Awareness – creating and maintaining a high profile for the sector amongst key audience groups
  • Advocacy - undertaking focused and targeted advocacy initiatives that support beef herd improvement businesses
  • Accreditation – lead and support the sector in the development of initiatives that contribute to improving and promoting high quality service providers and associated businesses

Key audience groups identified for NHIA to engage with to fully represent the beef side of the industry are herd improvement and artificial insemination end users, government and regulatory authorities and the wider herd improvement industry.

Semen Market Survey – NHIA Chairman Anthony Shelly

The most recent NHIA Semen Market Survey showed that sexed dairy and beef semen continue to drive a strong domestic market, with exports remaining depressed due mainly to global factors. The Semen Market Survey report and summary can be accessed here.

Previously carried out over the financial year, the survey has moved to a calendar year reporting period to more accurately reflect Australian breeding seasons.

NHIA Strategy for 2023 – Sara Merckel

NHIA is looking to deliver a variety of educational workshops to industry as a mix of online and in person training sessions.

Mentorship was identified as the top request from members at the IDW forum in January this year.

NHIA will deliver a member workshop on mentoring in the next few weeks. This will enable member businesses that attend the workshops to develop their own mentoring programs to help their people grow and develop within their organisation.

Dates for the mentoring workshops, to be held in Victoria, will be announced soon.

NHIA is also canvassing member opinion on preferred topics for further workshops. If you have a workshop topic idea please contact Sara at [email protected].

WorkSafe Safety Talk – Tim Ashlin (WorkSafe)

Tim is a safety professional with 40 years of practical experience in high risk/ high consequence industries such as mining, forestry, fire management, civil construction, plant operation and manufacturing.

He has been with WorkSafe Tasmania for 9 years where he specialises in providing business specific advice focussed on applying simple solutions to real world complex workplace safety issues.

Tim provided an in-depth presentation which you can obtain by contacting him at [email protected] or 0418 957 836.

NHIA Young Achiever Award

NHIA introduced a new Young Person Achiever Award in 2020. This award is to applaud the commitment and excellence of young people 35 and under in the Herd Improvement industry. Sara Merckel encouraged members to consider who can be nominated for this award and to contact her on 0411 819 165 with any nominees.

Apprenticeship approach to the herd improvement sector

The meeting discussed it would be ideal to offer an apprenticeship/training that specialises in herd improvement and all the areas that the industry offers. NHIA has a careers page to promote what career paths are available in industry and will look to build on this with the partner networks and see what future potential there can be for a training model.

General Business

A question was presented asking if a breeding value for 'calf drinkability' could be introduced. There seems to be big differences between calves from different bulls in how easy they are to teach to drink.

This question will be presented to DataGene by NHIA for consideration and reply.

Another question / request was ‘could a system be implemented to get AI and calving records into the national database? Many AI service providers have a lot of these records, but they don't make it into the database because a lot of my customers don't herd test’.

There was great discussion on this topic resulting in a consensus that this would be a great initiative to drive data capture whilst supporting individual businesses to manage their records. This further demonstrates the need for the ‘Digital Docket book’ concept proposed by NHIA that has previously been discussed and most recently at the NHIA December 2022 Leongatha Forum. NHIA to come back with a further update.

The final remark was on feedback for inseminators: ‘In some countries inseminators are provided with information on non-return rates and conception rates. My way of thinking is if you want to get better at what you are doing, you need feedback to do so. If other inseminators are getting better results than I am, I want to find out what they are doing differently’. Again, there was great discussion on this topic that directly links to the previous question. This matter does require action from industry to support improved data capture.