Seasonal Single Calving

agCap CEO, Wolfie Wagner believes that the future of our Australian pasture based dairy industry rests largely with ensuring that moderate sized pasture based dairy farming businesses become increasingly efficient. Seasonal single calving is a strategy that can contribute to efficiency.

Wolfie defines the single calving model as having a single calving period once per annum that ideally matches seasonal feed supply. Well executed single calving models may result in no cows being milked for a period of approximately 30 days. Alternative calving systems (Dairy Australia 2019) adopted by Australian dairy farmers include:

  • Split calving where cows calve in two or three distinct calving periods each year, and
  • Year-round calving where cows calve in at least 10 months of the year. Year-round calving can also include batch calving where cows calve in multiple batches throughout the year.

Dairy Australia 2017, p2 suggests that simple systems are easier to manage and implement. Simple systems (e.g. single calving) are easily replicated and can be implemented at scale. Single calving further offers the benefit of having a finite set of tasks matched to a finite set of resources (Griffin C 2018 pers. comm., 4 July). Inconsistent cash flow and historic milk processor payment systems are two perceived barriers to the adoption of the single calving model.

Implementing a seasonal single calving model allows dairy farm operators to match calving (feed demand) to the seasonal pasture growth rate curve.