Canadian dairy producers adhere to a strict program called proAction® to ensure the highest standards of quality milk production, animal care and environmental stewardship. The Dairy Farmers of Canada (DFC) explains the program by saying “Through proAction® Canadian dairy farmers collectively demonstrate responsible stewardship of their animals and the environment, sustainably producing high-quality, safe, and nutritious food for consumers.”
There are six modules involved in the program, each at different stages of development, including: Milk Quality, Food Safety, Animal Care, Traceability, Biosecurity and Environment.
At a minimum, every two years, producers receive a visit from a Certified proAction® Validator, to ensure that the standards of on-farm excellence required by the program are being complied with. Cowsmo chatted with Morgan Hobin, proAction® Coordinator for Alberta Milk, to get an idea of what some producers are consistently overlooking and established the Top 5 things producers can do to get ready for their validation appointment.
1) Make sure the yearly required documents are up to date.
These include the Veterinary declaration, annual water sample test, and the system wash record (Record 14b) which is administered by your dairy equipment dealer (ex. DeLaval). Also your dairy equipment dealer has to complete the record about your on-farm chemicals (Record 14a) if any of your wash chemicals change to a different product or your milking system changes.
2) Any corrective action plans arising from your animal assessment need to be completed.
When you have an animal assessment done a PEER report summarizes the findings on your farm, based on the representative herd sample and categorizes you against the National benchmark. If you are in the red zone for any of these things (ex. Injured hocks), then you are required to do a corrective action plan. You can do this in consultation with your vet, nutritionist or dairy specialist to come up with an effective plan and timeline to improve in this area. For example, if you have problems with the hocks on your cows you may want to improve the stall mats, or the amount of sawdust or sand used for bedding to fix the problem.
3) Record 10 – ALL treatments should be recorded!
A common oversight in this area is that not all treatments are recorded, especially when it comes to calf treatments for dehorning etc., where the products used may not have a milk withdrawal but do have a meat withdrawal. Many producers fill out Record 10 in regard to their lactating animals, but calf treatments also need to be recorded somewhere – either on a separate Record 10 sheet or even in a notebook as long as withdrawal times and clear dates are noted. You can often record events such as dehorning in your dairy management software like DairyComp, so just make sure no information about treatments are missing. Also make sure you have valid prescriptions or directions for use from your vet clinic for any treatment protocols or products that require such documentation.
4) Standard Operating Procedures (SOP) on your farm.
SOP’s need to be completed for Animal Care including euthanasia, shipping, animal health practices (such as dehorning and castration), and calf feeding and colostrum management. These are working documents and should be reviewed regularly. Make sure these are all completed before your validation and make any changes to them if practices on your farm have changed.
5) Record 13 – Cleaning and Sanitizing Checklist
This is a monthly record that seems to fall by the wayside at times. Wash cycle (hot water) temperature and checklist of equipment cleanliness needs to be done on a monthly basis. Robotic systems record this right in the computer so it can be copied down from there, however, remember that your robot can’t tell you if you have broken seal or there’s a problem with buildup, so it’s important to check that everything is washing and operating properly.
Tips for a Successful Validation
1) Get on your equipment dealers early! In Alberta a letter is sent 2 months ahead to remind producers of their upcoming validation date. Getting your equipment dealer tests and water test done takes time, it’s important to have those things ready to go. Put a couple extra copies of the vet declaration near your herd health notes so you are reminded to have your vet sign it when they come.
2) Make use of the National Electronic Administration System (NEAS). Each producer has their own account and can access useful tools such as the SOP wizard which brings up a list of the requirements and can be edited to be farm specific. The NEAS system can also be used to submit the self-declaration form online and has many other informative resources about the program itself. Contact your proAction® provincial coordinator/representative to get set up on the NEAS system.
3) Visit the proAction® Website! www.dairyfarmers.ca/proaction/resources/overview
There are all sorts of templates for records and other program requirements that can be used as guides to make your farm compliant and successful on the program.