Animal Care Module Changes

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Source: proAction

Requirement: continuous improvement requirements for cattle assessments.

Reference: proAction Workbook and Reference Manual (Chapter 4 and Appendix II).

Effective date: March 2021

Description of changes:

Dairy Farmers of Canada (DFC), through the Animal Care Technical Committee and in consultation with provincial members, has reviewed aggregate data from the cattle assessments and re-evaluated the expectations for corrective action and continuous improvement for the cattle assessment requirement. This has resulted in the following changes:

• The peer report zones will be fixed rather than based on percentiles. The thresholds have been established based on the benchmark set by the first round of cattle assessments conducted across Canada.

The zones are outlined in Table 1 in the Appendix.

• A corrective action plan template will be available to guide the development of corrective action plans with dairy professionals. Farmers and dairy professionals can use their own formats but all of the elements in the template are required, unless specifically designated as optional.

The corrective action plan template is included in the Appendix

• Cattle scoring in the Monitor category for the gait scoring method of lameness will be more prominently shown on the cattle assessment report. The peer report will include a message that these animals are mildly to moderately lame to encourage farmers to identify the root cause of the problem and take corrective action to improve and prevent lameness in the future.

• Continuous improvement expectations and timelines are defined in Table 2, including a transition period to provide time for farmers and the industry to adjust:

o A temporary Dark Red zone (herds scoring less than 60% acceptable in any category) is being implemented to focus first on farms that need to improve the most. Farms with results in the Dark Red zone will under-go more frequent cattle assessments with a larger sample size.

o Farms with results in the Dark Red or Red zone must document and implement a corrective action plan in consultation with their veterinarian, nutritionist or other dairy specialist.

o If a farm has one or more results in the Dark Red zone, the farm is due for the next cattle assessment in 12 months from its next validation anniversary date, instead of the standard 24 months, and the number of cattle assessed will increase (see Table 3 in the Appendix).

o Farms must demonstrate improvement out of the Dark Red zone according to the timelines outlined in Table 2.

o After two years, the increase in cattle assessment frequency, increase in sample size, and the expectation for improvement out of the zone after three consecutive results for the same measure will apply to the Red zone as well as the Dark Red zone, effectively combining the two zones, starting in spring 2023.

Rationale: preliminary data from the second round of cattle assessments indicates that herd scores are improving across Canada. While this is positive news, continuous improvement requirements are needed to clearly demonstrate every farms’ commitment to excellent animal care.

The new requirements are designed to establish reasonable, achievable targets (the Green zone), while driving improvement where needed.

The corrective action plan template is designed to provide more guidance on how to structure the plans and ensure timely follow-up.

The increased frequency of cattle assessments for lower scores ensures timely follow-up and demonstrates to stakeholders that the industry is committed to action, while still providing farmers time to find solutions. The larger sample size for these cattle assessments helps the farmer and the dairy professional evaluate the effectiveness of the corrective actions in resolving the root cause of the problem(s).

Finally, the transition period provides time for the farmers, dairy professionals, and provincial staff to adjust, as needed, while ensuring action on farms with the lowest scores.

Requiring mandatory improvement out of the Red zone demonstrates to farmers’ peers, customers, consumers and the public that animal care is a top priority and that meeting standards is expected and required.

Note: The above listed changes will be incorporated into the next version of the proAction Workbook and Reference Manual in 2021.