Artificial Breeding technicians are safer on-farm after a national campaign aimed at improving their work environments produces “outstanding” results.
LIC national AB manager Dave Hale says AB technicians are tasked with one of the most important jobs on farm – getting cows in-calf, but their success can be compromised by the state of facilities provided.
“The variation between facilities on each farm was vast, with most technicians required to carry out their job in the confines of milking sheds.
“Balancing precariously on unstable platforms while inseminating cows wasn’t out of the ordinary and it wasn’t good enough.”
To ensure LIC’s 840-plus AB technicians were working in a safe environment and given the best chance to get farmer’s cows in-calf, the farmer-owned co-operative developed a national standard for AB facilities and trained a team of 30 technicians to carry out checks nationwide.
To date, reportable health and safety incidents for LIC’s AB technicians in the 2018 season, ending May 31, have dropped by 47 per cent compared to 2017 and 43 per cent compared to 2016.
“Although it was common practice for facilities to be checked before the start of the AB season, the approach wasn’t consistent,” says Dave.
“Establishing a national standard for AB facilities and implementing this nationwide is a first for NZ. It has meant all farms are treated fairly as they’re checked and graded based on the same criteria.”
The national standard includes requirements to ensure animals are held safely and securely and technician’s footing is firm, safe and on the same level as the animal.
“In addition to the bronze minimum standard, we set up silver and gold grades. This is a long-term initiative so we wanted to give farmers a gold standard to aspire to.”
Dave acknowledges some farmers have challenged the standard but once the purpose of the checks was understood, most have been understanding and some even welcoming.
“This isn’t a tick box exercise – there’s a bigger picture. We simply want our staff to have the best opportunity to get our farmer’s cows in-calf and return home safely every day.”
The checks have been implemented as standard practice and are continuing throughout the country.