Graziers and farmers - a key relationship around NAIT

Date 3 May 2019

Waikato based 50/50 sharemilker Philip Van Heuven is preparing to move livestock off-farm for winter grazing. He farms with partner Erin and has a herd of 340 Friesian-jerseys on 100 hectares.

How many NAIT locations do you manage?
I’ve got one. My dairy farm is at Ngahinapouri around 20 minutes south of Hamilton. I‘ve been there for nearly two years after taking on a three-year contract.

How are preparations going for grazing?
The yearlings are due to be moved to next grazing in May, while the two-year olds will be coming home. I generally contact the stock truck and they notify the graziers who confirm the movements in the NAIT online system. The graziers we use are at Putaruru and Fitzgerald Glade about an hour away from the farm.

Does your livestock undertake TB testing before going off-farm?
We aren’t in a movement control area [MCA] so we aren’t required to on this occasion. We will though get notified when it is our turn by AsureQuality, who manage the TB testing.

Do you exchange Animal Status Declaration (ASD) forms with your graziers?
Yes, we do. We have a policy of ensuring the dockets are fully completed and go with the stock truck. That way, there is a record of the NAIT number from my farm and the number at the graziers.

The farmer and grazier relationship?
Very important and crucial to our farming business as we rely on good healthy stock to come back. We have been with one grazier for three years where our r2's go [heifers] and two years, with the other grazier [weaner calves until they are moved as yearlings]. We keep in good contact with our graziers and regularly check-up when we can.

How do you manage NAIT on-farm?
We have a scanner, but I choose to use visual tags. Most of our livestock has at least two or three tags on them, so that works best for us. Our MINDA set-up is in synch with the NAIT online system so we avoid duplication when it comes to registering animals. All our heifer calves get tagged with birth identification tags as soon as they are born. This information is transferred through to the graziers’ NAIT account. I believe strongly in the value of lifetime traceability, it’s so important that sharemilkers do this, especially for future proofing as diseases can be easily spread.

What value does NAIT provide for your business?
It is essential and does protect my business and livelihood. We need an animal traceability system that is robust and reliable. The ability to trace animals and the farms they’ve been at, has been especially important since the Mycoplasma bovis outbreak.

What is your message to farmers who haven’t updated their NAIT account?
Well, you don’t have a choice, it is compulsory and the law. It could also prove to be a costly decision if your herd ends up being identified with M.Bovis and perhaps some other nasty livestock disease.

Phil Van Heuven website

Philip Van Heuven