click image to zoom Using requirements over best practices, involving animal welfare groups, and taking a multi-species approach, Canada’s “Dairy Code” for animal welfare will differ sharply from the National Dairy F.A.R.M. program. But the Canadian system is still a few years from full implementation, while F.A.R.M. (Farmers Assuring Responsible Management) reached the 70% participation threshold in the U.S. in early 2013.
One stark contrast that bears noting is Canada’s top-down industry structure, with a supply management system implemented by the nationally overarching Dairy Farmers of Canada (DFC) organization. While in the U.S., rules for farmers can come from either the processors customers or the processors themselves, DFC’s provincial representatives send one rulebook down for farmers to follow – and if they don’t follow it they have no other processors to which they can ship milk.
Multi-species program covers all livestock
The Canadian “Dairy Code” is part of a broader coalition with animal welfare groups, enforcement, government, and farmers all under one umbrella, the National Farm Animal Care Council (NFACC). The dairy code was born in 2008, after 28 years of development in care guides for all livestock species. There are over a dozen species identified, plus poultry, including everything from bison to fox and cattle to mink. NFACC holds “Codes of Practice” for each species that must be followed, along with a code called “Transport.”
Within the Dairy Cattle code, released in 2009, there is a 6-section and 12-appendix guide to caring for dairy cattle. The 65-page book holds a list of requirements, like “housing must allow cattle to easily stand up, lie down, adopt normal resting postures, and have visual contact with other cattle,” and best practices such as “design facilities to allow for easy moving and grouping of animals.”
Within the Canadian dairy code, there are 64 requirements, also including no tail docking and a working veterinary relationship. In addition, there are 283 recommended best practices.
Meanwhile, the National Dairy F.A.R.M. program refers to itself as a “wide-ranging educational resource for dairy farmers,” with 77 pages of materials. National Dairy F.A.R.M. relies on a checklist rather than the requirements, and is therefore able to report that:
- 99% of farms observe animals daily for health treatment
- 93% of farms have protocols developed with veterinarians
- 67% of farm operators apply antiseptic to calf navels at birth