PROGRAM DAY 1 - START 10:30 am March 22nd 2017

Arrival and registration
Welcome: Conference MC and communications consultant to the herd improvement industry Esther Jones sets up the days ahead, leading us through the official welcome.

Making complex simple: Rapper, unconventional extension agent and geneticist Alison Van Eenennaam from the University of California sets Herd 17 off to a start like never before. This multi-award-winning science communicator has much to teach about conveying complex science. With a particular interest in biotech, Alison provides the motivation and the tips for us to optimise the uptake of the technology at our industry’s fingertips.

The HI industry’s bold new plan hits the road: The broader agricultural sector has watched with intrigue at the level of cooperation between entities that created DataGene. In an industry restructure DataGene has emerged as the pre-competitive platform that will genuinely reshape the way in which herd improvement is delivered. This is your chance to get to know the single largest structural change in the HI industry for more than a decade.

Short and sharp - The all-new Herd Test dashboard: This new-look reporting tool is a game- changer in adding value to Herd Test customers. Datagene’s Tony Francis has been involved with the Herd Test dashboard since its inception. We went from concept to reality as Datagene emerged as the vehicle with the horsepower behind it to turn a good idea into a valuable tool. But only the combined power of the dairy industry understanding its features and applications, will result in the system being optimized at a farm level. Tony steps us through the power of the Dash.

DairyBio – how lucky are we? To have our own genetic innovation research facility the size of DairyBio, is just another reason for the rest of the world to look on with envy. In a time of tightening R&D dollars, the science team at DairyBio needs to have a compelling business case that their research efforts into driving genetic innovation would generate significant farm profit increases. Principal researcher at DairyBio, Jennie Pryce, knows her team’s future depends on being relevant, innovative and capable of handing over the fruits of their work to Datagene to deliver. She brings to Herd ’17, the reason why she’s excited about what’s bubbling at DairyBio.


Skills, attitude and change: Working for one of the largest and globally competitive genetics company, Marj Faust leads the development of new reproductive technologies at Genus ABS Global. Her expectation is that there is quantum change ahead in reproductive technologies but warns that these changes must be underpinned by the right combination of attitude and skill. This is a unique insight into the emerging technologies at Genus ABS Global and the challenges of introducing them.

Testing the return on investment. Gardiner Foundation CEO Mary Harney has an understandably high care-factor about how well our industry adopts new HI technology. A $3.3 million care-factor, to be precise, as Gardiner is the principle funder of ImProving Herds. Who better to check in on just how well their investment might land, than asking dairy farmers how they will take advantage of the genetic innovation that is on offer and use it to drive their business profits.

Hot, hot hot! Dairybio scientist Thuy Nguyen is a key member of the team charged with developing an ABV for heat tolerance. To explore the value of breeding for heat tolerance, Thuy invites a dairy farmer from one of the country’s hottest post codes, to share her stage and explore the practical value of this work.

Afternoon tea

The progression toward using mid infra-red spectrometry in Australian herd testing: If MIR is proven for Australian conditions, then we will be looking at yet another opportunity for quantum change in our services. The project to validate MIR is still in its relative infancy, but its critical industry is at all times part of the ride. The MIR for Profit project team reports.

Introducing the app – for cows: Move over Good Bulls. Make way for the new app that shines the light on cows – their health, fertility and the critical information farmers want access to 24/7. Datagene’s Tony Francis returns to the stage to give us the first look at this new innovation.

The power of information: Over a 12-month period, seven herds across Australia that had not previously been herd recording, investigated the impact on their decision making from either an entry or re-entry into herd recording. DairyBio’s Jo Newton shares their experiences – stories that are set to become great testimonials and sales tools to growing the overall participation in herd recording.

The Herd ‘17 Dinner

PROGRAM DAY 2 - START 9:30 am March 23nd 2017

Conference MC Esther Jones oversees the morning recovery plans following the celebratory Herd 17 dinner and introduces the Day 2 welcome

The dairy roller coaster: LIC’s Andrew Fear has faced the highs and lows of herd recording during NZ’s milk price volatility, a journey that is being well and truly replicated here in Australia. There’s nothing quite like looking over the ditch to see what we can learn – and so this morning we hear about NZ’s journey to combat volatility and retain herd recording clients.

Short and sharp - What breed is she? Genomics offers new insights to breed proportion. Holstein Australia’s Rohan Butler talks about how pedigree knowledge can be improved by the introduction of genomic-based breed proportion.

Australia’s new breeding indices – are they living up to expectations? After the NBO review, the new indices were launched at Herd ’15 but as Ben Hayes knows, the proof is always in the pudding. Ben has interrogated outcomes from the ImProving Herds Genetics and Feeding the Genes chapters, to provide his insight to the workings of indices on Australian farms.

Forging a path as a young researcher in a tough world: Donagh Berry has risen to international recognition in his specialty of genetics. This humble Irishman based at Teagasc is multi-published and award winning. So what were the moments and breakthroughs in his career that got him on his way?

Our future leaders: A fascinating session featuring insights from a succession of five young scientists, young farmers and young herd improvement professionals. Hearing from our next generation provides a boost like no other to an industry, secure in the knowledge that its future is in good hands. Each will present and then face questions from Donagh and Ben, whose job it is to question these young minds a little further. A session that makes you proud of your industry and not to be missed.


Clash or compliment? Marj Faust returns to the stage to focus in on the impact of new tools and services on the time-honoured tradition of breeding cows.

The data machine: The data machine that backs Data Gene will change the way Australia does business in herd improvement. Simon Jenkins tells us how and why.

Afternoon tea