ARLINGTON, Va. — The National Milk Producers Federation has
released a newly-revised animal care reference manual containing the guidelines
that comprise the core of the National Dairy Farmers Assuring Responsible
The new manual can be found online at www.nationaldairyfarm.com.
The FARM Program was created four years ago to establish a
national, voluntary dairy animal care program to bring consistency and
uniformity to the practices used on America’s dairy farms.
The original reference manual was used to guide animal care
practices on farms that have enrolled in the program since 2009. This new manual
now will be provided to those both currently enrolled and those who will become
part of the program going forward.
“This new manual reflects the continuous improvement process
that is a hallmark of the FARM program,” said Jim Mulhern, NMPF chief operating
officer. “It contains important revisions from the first manual, and it reflects
both evolving management practices on the farm, as well as expectations for
animal care from the entire dairy value chain.”
A variety of industry stakeholders provided input into the
revision process, Mulhern said, and the end result includes findings from the
third-party verification process that began in 2011.
Among the improvements in the new manual is the overall
checklist used to evaluate farms has been streamlined from 77 questions to 48,
“simplifying the process for farmers, and more effectively capturing the
pertinent information that animal care experts believe is relevant to proper
dairy animal care,” Mulhern said.
In addition to the streamlined on-farm evaluation process,
key areas of change in the areas of medical procedures, animal observations and
* A guideline on horn disbudding was added: Calves are disbudded at eight
weeks of age or earlier and with appropriate use of analgesics and/or
* Language was added to identify some best practices for disbudding,
castration and extra teat removal.
* Information is provided on proper branding techniques, as some states
require this for animal ID.
* Language was added encouraging the elimination of routine tail docking by
* The hygiene guideline remains the same based on data collected by the FARM
program. The locomotion guideline was changed to only score milking and dry
cows. Two other guidelines were added to document practices in place to improve
* The body condition score guideline was reduced to 1 percent of all animals
in all pens from 10 percent because the FARM data showed that almost 98 percent
of the farms in the program met this guideline. A second guideline was added to
document practices are in place to improve an animal with poor condition.
* The hock and knee lesion guideline was changed to score only the milking
and dry cows. All experts agreed and the FARM data showed that this is the most
high risk group on the farm for this type of injury.
* A body abrasion section was added to allow for the collection of data on
other body abrasions, besides knees and hocks, looking at all the animals on the
farm. The FARM program will review the data collected after three years and
decide if a guideline for body abrasions needs to be developed. The scoring
system will target animals with an obvious swelling, lacerations or severe
lesions of the skin.
* The housing section was streamlined to remove the separate section on
housing types and creating guidelines that can be utilized for all systems by
referring to lying areas.
Other areas such as feed and water have also been
streamlined in this manner to make the evaluation more effective.
To order hard copies of the FARM Animal Care Reference
Manual or the FARM Quick Reference User Guide, fill out the order form that can be found on the
FARM website. The new guidelines will be implemented in the on-farm evaluation
process later this summer.
The National Dairy FARM program currently has participant
farms producing 70 percent of the nation’s milk supply, through 52 cooperatives
and proprietary processors. More than 8,000 on-farm evaluations have been