Continuing Education Requirements for FARM v4.0
For more complete information on CE and the FARM v4.0 Program go to: https://nationaldairyfarm.com/farm-animal-care-version-4-0/
All family* and non-family employees with animal care responsibilities must sign a Cow Care Agreement annually.
- On facilities with family employees, the option exists for one family member to be accountable for and sign one Cow Care Agreement on behalf of all family employees.
- All non-family labor must have individualized documentation.
All family* and non-family employees with animal care responsibilities are trained annually in proper stockmanship.
- On facilities with family employees, one family member can document and sign to confirm that other immediate family members (18 years and older) have been trained or provided continuing education in each required area.
- All non-family labor must have individualized documentation.
- Family and non-family employees with pre-weaned calf management responsibilities have been trained annually on the written protocol for pre-weaned calf management. (Chapter 7 in FARM Handbook)
- Family and non-family employees with non-ambulatory animal management responsibilities have been trained annually on the written protocol for non-ambulatory animal management. (Chapter 8 in FARM Handbook)
- Family and non-family employees with euthanasia responsibilities have been trained annually on written protocol for euthanasia. (Chapter 9 in FARM Handbook)
- Family and non-family employees with determining fitness to transport responsibilities have been trained annual on written protocol for fitness to transport. (Chapter 10 in FARM Handbook)
National Dairy FARM Animal Care Continuing Education Standards are valid for all family and non-family labor with animal care responsibilities in the respective areas over the age of 18 years.
*"Family" Defined - An immediate family member is defined as grandparent, parent, in-law, spouse, partner, sibling, child or grandchild of the legal owner(s) of the dairy operation.
All non-family labor must have individualized documentation.
*Family Employees Continuing Education Criteria - On facilities with family employees, the option exists for one family member to be accountable for and sign one Cow Care Agreement on behalf of all family employees. Similarly, one family member can document and sign to confirm that other immediate family members (18 years and older) have been trained or provided continuing education in each required area.
Humane handling and animal care should be part of the daily culture on the dairy and not just an annual training. Humane animal handling and animal care expectations should be reinforced throughout job expectations and daily functions. Animal abuse is never tolerated.
When handling dairy animals, the animals’ comfort and safety, as well as the animal caretaker’s safety, are the primary concerns. Animal caretakers should be trained or provided continuing education opportunities to learn proper handling techniques and appropriate use of restraint equipment. Abuse is never tolerated.
In best practice, animals are handled by equipment appropriate for the procedure. Use of flags, plastic paddles and a stick with ribbon attached to it is appropriate for expanding the handler’s presence but should not come in direct contact with the animal. Excessive or routine aggressive contact, slapping or prodding indicates an underlying problem that requires management attention and correction. In all cases, use the least amount of force necessary to control the animal and still ensure the safety of herd mates and animal caretakers. All equipment used to restrain cattle and all cattle housing areas should have provisions for the humane release and removal of cattle that go down or are otherwise in distress. Preferably, use equipment with emergency release devices.
Routine contact with humans from birth, including regular gentle handling, will reduce fear and flight distance, make observation and treatment easier, improve productivity and enhance animal care. Cattle should be moved at a slow walk. It is particularly important to control the herd's speed in lanes and alleyways to prevent crowding at corners, gates and other narrow places in a facility.
In addition to these guidelines, the tail must never be used aggressively to move a cow. Tails can be broken through twisting, jacking or other rough handling and therefore this animal observation is set to detect farm-wide problems in animal handling. The widespread presence of broken tails indicates that there is or has been a problem on the farm. It is useful to investigate patterns in tail breaks, considering the age class affected, the location of the breaks within the tail, and observing handling to determine when and how tails may be broken.
Noise - Loud noises are known to be unpleasant for cattle, so every effort should be made to minimize loud noises during routine management practices such as handling, milking and transport. In best practice, care is taken to minimize noise of all types, including that from equipment and personnel. Dairy cows do not respond positively to excessive noise or yelling. Animal handlers should take care to minimize such behavior and treat animals—and other employees—with respect.
Types of Continuing Education
Continuing education can be facilitated through a variety of methods. The following is a non-exhaustive list of opportunities and programs that can be used for annual continuing education and training:
Discussions or presentations from on-farm dairy industry stakeholder specialists:
- Technical service teams (pharmaceutical, reproduction, milk quality, etc.)
- University and Extension faculty and staff
- Beef Quality Assurance State Coordinators
- Attendance of dairy industry meetings
- Formal dairy employee training programs
- Job shadowing with management - Example: A new milker has been hired and he job shadows the milker shift supervisor for a period of time. Management confirms with milker shift supervisor that the new employee is appropriately trained and can begin milking independently.
- Formal education - Example: Animal husbandry class at university/college; Continuing education class offering by dairy industry led program i.e. U.S. Dairy Education and Training Consortium, Penn State Online Dairy Production and Management
- Print and digital media training - Example: FARM has a stockmanship training video available in the resources section of the website. Employees, over lunch break, watch the video in 5 -10 minute segments throughout the month. - Example: A new calf feeder has been hired for weekend feedings. There is a new article in Dairy Herd Management on proper feeding techniques and nutritional requirements that she reads and demonstrates to management that the process is fully understood.
A list of training aids and resources can be found on the National Dairy FARM Program website at www.nationaldairyfarm.com.