In the updated version of the FARM Program 4.0, pre-weaned heifer and bull calves are getting more emphasis, reports Donna Amaral-Phillips, a dairy specialist with the University of Kentucky. The new requirements take effect January 1, 2020. She notes:
• All calves must have access to clean, fresh water by Day 3 of life.
• Fresh, palatable starter must also be available by Day 3 to “maintain health, growth and vigor.”
• Calves must be dehorned (before the horn bud attaches to the skull) by 8 weeks of age using pain mitigation.
Amaral-Phillips notes that these standards were in place with FARM 3.0, but they have now been revised to more clearly define the age access to water and starter must be begun. Disbudding practices need to be “verified to confirm they match what is outlined in written protocols,” states FARM 4.0.
Most important, if these standards are found in violation, they will require corrective action plans where the standard must be met within 9 months or less, depending on your milk procurement’s interpretation.
Training will also be needed and documented not only for employees but for “family employees” involved in calf feeding and handling.