Animal Health and Welfare
A common interest among Northwest Dairy Association farmers and their employees is a love of being around cows that most people don’t understand. This natural interest in dairy work is enhanced by commitment to best practices developed with one goal in mind - to be good stewards of the animals in our care.
Above and beyond this, NDA conducts comprehensive second-party and third-party evaluations and measurements on our farms to make sure that we are doing right by the animals in our care. We consistently evaluate our progress and put it into action on our farms every day.
Pioneering Animal Care Standards
Over a decade ago, the Northwest Dairy Association proactively launched animal care assessments to ensure all cooperative member farms are dedicated to the highest standards of animal care. The program empowered NDA farmers to self-evaluate and record their progress on major areas of animal care and welfare. Adoption of the program grew and NDA evaluated a large number of member farms who welcomed the opportunity for feedback and insights gained from evaluating their practices. This program then evolved into the Dairy F.A.R.M. program outlined below.
In 2009, the national Dairy F.A.R.M. program, which stands for Farmers Assuring Responsible Management was launched and NDA formally adopted the program to build on its work and participate in the program that continues to drive improvement in dairy management through research, on-farm evaluations and training modules available to all dairy farmers.
The F.A.R.M. program involves extensive, in-depth evaluations covering the full range of issues that make up cows’ well-being, including key areas like:
- Animal Health
- Employee Education
- Calf Care
- Management and Procedures
Going Above and Beyond
In addition to F.A.R.M. second-party assessments, NDA is also committed to a vigorous third-party evaluation program. For several years, NDA has utilized recognized outside third-party experts to evaluate members’ management practices and animal welfare standards, providing in-depth assessments to some of their farms every year, evaluating all farms over a rotating schedule designed to spread best practices and accelerate continuous improvement. NDA dairy farms to date have demonstrated excellent animal care practices and members appreciated the insights gained toward continuous improvement.