To view this page ensure that Adobe Flash Player version
11.1.0 or greater is installed.
FARM PROGRAM ANIMAL CARE MANUAL UPDATED
Animal care practices revised to reflect three years of experience, input
The National Milk Producers Federation
(NMPF) released a newly-revised animal care
reference manual, containing the guidelines
comprising the core of the National Dairy FARM
(Farmers Assuring Responsible Management)
Program. 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
enrolled in the program since 2009. This new
manual 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,
Chief Operating Officer of NMPF. “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, 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.
Key changes are in the areas of medical
procedures, animal observations and housing.
• A guideline on horn disbudding was added:
Calves are disbudded at eight weeks of age or
earlier and with appropriate use of analgesics
• Language was added to identify some best
practices for disbudding, castration and extra
• Information is provided on proper branding
techniques, as some states require this for
• Language was added encouraging the
elimination of routine tail docking by 2022.
• 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 to
• The body condition score guideline was
reduced from 10% to 1% of all animals in all
pens, because the FARM data showed that
almost 98% of the farms in the program met
this guideline. A second guideline documents
practices in place to improve an animal with
8 National Dairy FARM (Farmers Assuring
Responsible Management) Program
www.nationaldairyfarm.com • The hock and knee lesion guideline was
changed to score only the milking and dry cows.
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.