WelFarm workshop success

We held our inaugural workshop in Hamilton in early December 2023 to foster collaboration among WelFarm member clinics and across the sector. With attendees traveling from all over NZ for the day and many staying on for dinner with guest speaker the “Top 50% Farmer” Bart van de Ven.

The theme of the day was 'Unlocking Value,' and clinics shared their valuable experience of farmers utilising WelFarm. The highlight of the day was a farmer panel, expertly facilitated by veterinarian Danielle Thomson from Franklin Vet Services.

A farmer's opinion

Three farmers, Maia McRae, a farm manager from Waikato, Ben McKercher, a contract milker from Canterbury, and Trish Rankin, an owner-operator from Taranaki shared what they get out of being involved with WelFarm for several seasons.

They highlighted that every season is different and even though you’re doing the same things there are so many factors at play. So having the WelFarm data from their vet team is invaluable to make plans to move forward and gives everyone confidence in how they’re spending, for example, whether that extra feed is needed or those races need work.

Surprisingly, Ben talked about the reduced payout being a motivator to do more - he opted to do an extra whole herd body condition score (BCS) to ensure he could get as much production as possible without sacrificing achieving body condition score targets.

Trish once had feedback from her vet after a BCS to dry the herd off immediately. The payoff was achieving their pre-calving and pre-mating BCS targets and not suffering into the following season.

Staff training was a big feature, utilising WelFarm information to help them understand how their actions impact the herd’s health and wellbeing. And the benchmarking can put things into context, for example tail scoring results - providing the context of what is commonly seen and assure herd owners.

And one of the most important points the farmers highlighted was how the relationship with their vet team has changed as Trish explained.

With help from Vetlife, we also looked deeper into some of the seasonal data, and impressively, farmers engaged with WelFarm see an increase in their 6-week in-calf rate, which was mirrored across all farms and amplified in the ‘early adopters’ who have been using WelFarm since the beginning. The same pattern is seen in production, with per-cow production increasing each season, especially in the early adopters.

While there are too many factors to say the improvements are due to WelFarm it’s exciting to see that overall the farmers who have engaged have improved.

Data also showed us the retention rate is 88% on average and 67% of farms involved with WelFarm are owner-operators, more exciting statistics!

Is your clinic part of WelFarm yet? Find out here