The National Milk Producers Federation (NMPF) has released an updated version of its Animal Care Reference Manual which sets forth standards for the National Dairy Farmers Assuring Responsible Management, or FARM, program. The NMPF started the FARM program in 2009 as a way to bring consistency and uniformity to animal care and production practices. The FARM program is voluntary and open to all dairy producers. Today about 70% of dairy farmers in the United States participate in the program and are evaluated based on the manual’s guidelines once every three years. The manual provides guidelines and resources in four major areas: 1) nutrition, 2) animal health, 3) environment and 4) facilities and handling. In addition, the manual addresses the care of newborns and special needs animals.
According to a statement from the NMPF, the new manual reflects “evolving management practices on the farm as well as expectations for animal care from the entire dairy value chain.” The new manual features a simplified checklist used to evaluate participating farmers which NMPF hope will simply the process for participating farmers. The new manual also includes updated information on branding techniques, a guideline on horn disbudding, and language encouraging the elimination of routine tail docking by 2022. In addition, new animal observation suggestions, including changes to the locomotion, body condition score and hock and knee lesion guidelines, were added. The manual also updates the housing section and streamlines feed and water evaluation techniques.For more information on the updated manual and FARM program, please see the NMPF’s press release and website.
Written by Clara E. Conklin - Research Assistant
The Agricultural Law Resource and Reference Center
July 10, 2013