Animal Care Wednesday Webinars
Husbandry Practices in the Spotlight
In a time when people are increasingly concerned about food safety and how animals are cared for, farmers continue to demonstrate their commitment to stewardship. During the June 1st Animal Care Wednesday Webinar, Kim Clark, Nebraska Dairy Extension Educator, discussed the ins and outs of what occurs on a dairy farm when a FARM (Farmers Assuring Responsible Management) Evaluator conducts an on-farm assessment.
FARM Evaluation Process
The National Dairy FARM Program has participation from 82 cooperatives and processors, which represents 95% of the United States’ milk supply. Dairy farmers care for their cows and calves using best management practices and keep careful records. Farm employees are encouraged to receive regular trainings, and are expected to implement low-stress cattle handling techniques. When a FARM Evaluator schedules a visit, there are four parts to the assessment process.
- Pre-checklist for the producer to complete: Includes compiling required records and protocols (SOPs) for reviewing, determine the map route through your barns for the walk-through, and write out your herd profile.
- In-person entrance interview with the owner or manager: Includes reviewing records and SOPs, talk about animal identification and milking procedures, calf care, veterinarian and nutritionist relationships, and discusses how the dairy farm handles and transports animals.
- Evaluation and observations: Includes observing that SOPs are posted or available to employees; procedures are being followed; feed and water access; provision of protection from heat and cold; proper facilities for sick animals; and scoring animal hygiene, locomotion, body condition score, and hock/knee lesions.
- Closing meeting and action plans: Includes summary of the farm observations and animal scores, discuss potential areas of improvement, create a farm action plan for any critical areas of improvement, and sign the “Pledge of Participation”.
The Bottom Line
“It’s really important that consumers know and understand that dairy farmers are committed to the highest quality of care for their animals and the FARM program provides the certification that shows the farmers commitment,” said Kim Clark. “An assessment observes and evaluates all areas of the dairy farm including animal handling, overall animal appearance and health, housing facilities, food and water, and employee training.”
Dairy farmers that participate in the FARM program and routine farm evaluations convey their deep commitment to safe food production and animal well-being. Cows provide us with high quality milk every day; in return, dairy farmers work hard with a team of employees, veterinarians, nutritionists, hoof trimmers and others to ensure all of her needs are met.
Kim Clark can be reached at 402.472.6065.
For a brief overview The National Dairy FARM Program, view the video below.