Traceability entails a complete herd management system that includes the sustainable use of natural resources; a programme to ensure the health, welfare and safety of the animals and animal products produced and sold; animal recording and breeding according to genetic potential for optimal production under given environmental conditions; and sound record-keeping to prove compliance with good management practices.
Dr Danie Odendaal, veterinary herd health consultant and director of Veterinarian Network, worked with Tommie van Zyl, CEO of ZZ2, to develop and implement such a comprehensive system for its beef cattle division.
To use all natural resources optimally, a strictly controlled breeding policy must be implemented. Controlled breeding is used to ensure that cows calve within a short period for the most effective utilisation of natural grazing.
Synchronising the cows’ highest nutritional needs with the period of highest nutritional availability, together with an effective grazing plan, are the most important management goals for profitable cattle farming.
Controlled breeding also assists with implementing herd health and production management actions at specific times of the year. This entails implementing a 12-month production cycle for breeding females and other animals in the herd that is divided into four production periods, each with its own critical control points (CCPs).
Each of these, in turn, has a subset of management actions pertaining to it that must be executed and recorded according to a checklist.
There are four production periods within the production cycle, each with a number of CCPs:
Period 1: Calving and preparation for breeding: The CCPs include monitoring and managing cows before and during calving and the survival of newborn and young calves, as well as testing and preparing bulls and cows for the new breeding season.
Period 2: Breeding and pre-weaning calf growth: The CCPs are the management of bulls and cows during the breeding season, vaccination of calves, and management of optimal growth in calves during the pre-weaning period.
Period 3: Weaning of calves and pregnancy diagnosis: The CCPs are shown in the table below.
Period 4: Dry-cow management and preparation for calving: The CCPs, namely dry-cow management and preparation for calving, include putting in place the programme for oxen to be grown out on grazing, implementing the replacement heifer programme, preparing cows for calving, and marketing animals to be culled.
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