Guidance for veterinary practitioners, government animal health staff and dairy herd advisers on the Dairy Score.
Q: What are calf credits?
A: These are bonus points available to cattle when as calves they were reared in accordance with the requirements of the Victorian JDCAP (+3 credits) or the 3 Step Plan (+1 credit). Calf credits are added onto the herd's lowest base Score that the herd had in the animals first 12 months of life. This then becomes the Score for those individual cattle reared under these programs. For example, calves reared under the 3 Step Plan (+1 point) in a base Score 3 herd are eligible for Score 4 (3+1).
Q: How does the 3 Step Calf Plan affect the Dairy Score of Non-Assessed herds?
A: Non-Assessed herds have no testing history for BJD, however if the 3 Step Calf Plan was implemented and documented prior to July 1 2008 in herds within NSW, VIC, SA or TAS, then herd base Scores in these regions is Dairy Score 3. If calf hygiene controls were not introduced before July 1 2008, the herd base Score is 0.
Q: What is the maximum Score attainable for individual cattle reared as calves under either JDCAP or the 3-Step Plan?
A: Score 7 is the maximum individual animal Score for calves reared under either JDCAP (+3 points) or the 3 Step Plan (+1 point) where calf credits are added to the base Score for the herd. For example, calves reared under JDCAP in a herd that is in the Victorian Test and Control Program, which has attained RD2 (Score 6), can only claim a maximum of Score 7 not Score 9.
Q: Does my Non-Assessed Herd Dairy Score improve to Dairy Score 4 when I have been rearing calves hygienically for many years?
A: Yes. Hygienic rearing of calves adds to BJD assurance and is reflected in the Dairy Score. If measures have been in place for 4 years, the herd base Score for Non-Assessed herds with no history or occurrence of BJD is Dairy Score 4.
Q: Do calves reared under JDCAP or the 3-Step Plan keep their Score for life?
A: Yes. Calves reared under JDCAP can attain a maximum of Score 7 which is maintained for life eg. base Score 4 + 3 JDCAP credit points. The animals must have been reared under the JDCAP program for 12 months although this may not necessarily have been continuous on the same property.
Q: What is the definition of an adult animal in the context of the Dairy Score?
A: Any animal over 12 months of age.
Q: Does a previously Non-Assessed herd that undertakes a Check Test, with negative results, have to implement the 3-Step Plan to maintain Score 7?
A: No, however it is strongly recommended, especially if cattle are being introduced into the herd for any reason. Note that to maintain Score 7, the herd must be re-tested every 2 years by Check Testing 50 animals.
Q: What is the base Score for a herd that has been implementing JDCAP for a number of years?
A: After 4 years of an approved calf rearing program the base herd score is increased by one point. In herds where JDCAP has been implemented for 4 years or more, and this can be substantiated with documentation, the base Score of the herd is Score 4.In herds where JDCAP has been in place for less than 4 years, the base Score of the herd is Score 3, until 4 years of JDCAP is achieved.
Q: At what age do calves reared under JDCAP or the 3-Step Plan become eligible to claim calf credits?
A: Calves less than 12 months old are not eligible to claim the relevant credit points.
Q: Is there a requirement to have the 3 Step Calf Plan audited?
A: No, formal auditing of the 3 Step Calf Plan is not required, however if points are included for the 3 Step Calf Plan when calculating the Dairy Score for animals, auditable records must be maintained showing evidence of the Plan. Dairy companies have included the 3 Step Calf Plan as a part of their on-farm QA programs.
What assurance have I got that animals who's Dairy Score includes credit points for calf rearing have, in fact, been reared this way?
The Dairy Score has been introduced as a self-assessed tool to provide information on the risk of animals having BJD. Declaration of an animals Dairy Score can be entered in Section 9 of the National Vendor Declaration (NVD). If calf rearing credit points are included in the determination of an animal's Dairy Score, the vendor must able to provide adequate evidence to accurately support this Dairy Score declaration. A false declaration may lead to prosecution.