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FARM program considering medication, dehorning guidelines

Dairy producers might have to follow new guidelines for pain management and disbudding calves under the Farmers Assuring Responsible Management or FARM program next year. 


Emily Yeiser-Stepp directs the program for the National Milk Producers Federation.  She tells Brownfield one expected change is in the area of managing drug records for livestock.  “What we’re looking to do is add in an expectation around drug treatment records with continued scrutiny over how we’re using the antibiotics within the industry, (and) the importance to demonstrate that we are keeping our records.”

And, she says they’re looking at requiring disbudding or dehorning after eight weeks of age to be considered a surgical procedure that would have to be done by veterinarians.  “From a standards-based arena though, for disbudding, this would only focus on the dairy calf.  BQA (Beef Quality Assurance Program) has the same type of expectations around their disbudding practices.”

Jennifer Van Os with the University of Wisconsin tells Brownfield not everyone agrees on the pain management issue.  “Not all vets, producers, the public, etc. are on the same page about whether or not pain control for dehorning is necessary, but that’s something where research has shown that it is extremely important for the calf.”

Participation in the FARM program is voluntary however many milk processors require their farmers to participate.   

The public comment period is closed, and the technical writing committee is preparing FARM 4.0 for presentation to the National Milk Producers board in June with implementation planned for January 1st.

Yeiser-Stepp says she expects the future will bring more on-label uses for pain management drugs and additional best livestock practice guidelines. 

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