As a part of the Animal Welfare and Herd Health Standard Operating Procedures grant, Pennsylvania’s Center for Dairy Excellence (CDE) utilized farm press and other media avenues to encourage Pennsylvania dairy farmers to apply for a $1,000 grant that would help them to address a dairy cow care area for improvement on their farm. The end result of this project would provide case studies for the entire industry to reference in pursuing optimal dairy animal care and welfare.
There were 13 applications received from dairy farms throughout Pennsylvania. After careful consideration by the CDE staff and the Penn State Extension Veterinarian team, nine farms with the most pertinent dairy animal care enhancement opportunities were selected to create “Herd Health and Cow Care (HHCC)” teams. The participating farms were notified that they had been selected as an HHCC team with further details of the project that would accompany after herd veterinarians were formally contacted to discuss the project.
Communication with the individual herd veterinarians was completed through a series of conference calls to convey the overall objectives and the expected involvement of both the farm and the herd veterinarian in the project. All calls to herd veterinarians included a CDE staff member and the PSU Extension Veterinarian team.
Each farm and veterinarian received a packet of information further outlining the objectives, goals and expectations. Within this packet of information, standard forms were developed, to be completed during the initial herd visit. The on-farm evaluation team included the farm owner or manager, the herd veterinarian and a PSU Extension Veterinarian. These forms outline the identified bottleneck, dairy animal care areas to address and the Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) the farm and herd veterinarian will implement on the farm in the future to address the bottleneck.
After farm visits, CDE staff compiled the information and begun to develop case study formats for each farm. The SOPs developed from these visits are those that can be referenced by the greater industry from this project. During the initial farm visits, the group identified the bottleneck, and then further determined the three key more specific areas of focus. From these areas, the unit of professionals then developed a list of SOPs and the steps needed to complete each individual SOP.
The herd veterinarians monitored progress of the SOPs and the farm provided measurable progress and outcomes. Participating farms and herd veterinarians provided a full synopsis of procedures implemented, measurable indicators of improvement in the area of animal welfare, along with any costs associated with addressing the area of animal welfare.