TasHerd

TasHerd and its predecessors have operated out of the Hadspen premises since the mid 1960’s.
Originally the Artificial Breeding Board, then becoming the Tasmanian Herd Improvement Organisation (THIO) in the 1970’s
and later merging with the Tasmanian Dairy Industry Authority (TDIA) in the late 1980’s.




Who we are - a brief history

TasHerd was formed as a private company after de-regulation of the dairy industry in 2000 and is totally Tasmanian owned. Three of the current staff were also originally employed by the TDIA.

What we do

TasHerd’s focus is primarily on Dairy Herd Recording and we operate a modern milk testing laboratory at our Hadspen premises.

Herd Recording involves several steps:

1.     Farmers send us individual cow milk samples (approx once a month).
2.     TasHerd measures the sample volume and analyses the milk for fat, protein, and somatic cells
        (we can also test for SNF and lactose if required).
3.     The test result data from the laboratory is matched to the individual cows and a series of
        reports are produced for the farmer.

To get the maximum benefit from herd recording requires getting accurate information from the farmer. The single most important part of the process is that farmers accurately identify their cows and the milk samples.

TasHerd has developed software that makes use of the National Livestock Identification Scheme (NLIS) electronic ear tags. On herd test day, as each cow is milked her ear tag is read electronically and a barcoded sticker is printed and attached to her sample flask. When the samples arrive at our laboratory the barcode is scanned which matches the sample with the correct animal.

Information required to extract the most value from herd recording:

1.    Cow breeding details, ie breed, date of birth, sire & dam - provided when the cow enters the milking herd.
2.    Calving date – provided when the cow commences a new lactation.
3.    Dry off date – provided when the cow has completed her lactation.

At each herd test we require the date of the test, the time that milking commenced on the day of the test and at the previous milking and whether the test was done at the morning or afternoon milking.

In the early 1980's, the Tasmanian Herd Improvement Organisation (THIO) developed a method of testing where milk samples are taken from only one milking each month (rather than the traditional two milkings). For this system to work accurately, tests must alternate between AM and PM milkings, ie samples taken at the morning milking one month and then taken at the afternoon milking the next month and so on.

Trials done over several years in conjunction with the Tasmanian Department of Agriculture proved the accuracy of this method to be comparable with the traditional two samplings per month. Independent research carried out in Victoria reached similar conclusions. This testing regime is now widely used throughout Australia and is colloquially known as Tassie Test.

Milk Analysis

The milk samples are analysed for somatic cells, milk fat and protein composition using the latest technology available from Bentley Instruments.

For students or others interested in the technology used in TasHerd's laboratory, click here to download a document detailing TasHerd's milk analysis equipment and its operation.

How the data is used

The generated data serves two primary purposes:
firstly to provide farmers with reports and data to assist them in managing their herds and
secondly to contribute to the national database maintained by DataGene which uses the data for genetic evaluation and general dairy research.

For Farmers

After each herd test farmers receive a range of reports that allows them to monitor the performance of individual animals and the herd as a whole. Farmers can also choose to receive their data electronically which can be imported into various herd management programs for further analysis.