Animal Care

Animal health and well-being are a high priority on Canadian dairy farms. Farmers invest in technology and equipment, and work with experts like veterinarians and nutritionists to constantly improve cow comfort.



Dairy Farmers of Canada invests in research to improve dairy animal health, comfort and care

  • Dairy Farmers of Canada has invested in animal care research since 1996
  • Research sponsored by Dairy Farmers of Canada and members informed the update of the Code of Practice in 2009
  • Research sponsored by Dairy Farmers of Canada lead to the development of science-based measures and procedures to assess and improve animal comfort practices
  • Dairy Farmers of Canada is currently financing 11research projects to improve animal care and health
  • Dairy Farmers of Canada has supported an NSERC Industrial Research on Dairy Cattle Welfare at UBC for over 15 years leading to important advances on better dairy animal comfort and welfare practices

Holstein Canada will assess over 300,000 cows for benchmarking, on each single farm, five animal-based measures

The benchmarking exercise will start in September 2016

Agriculture industry has a framework to continuously improve animal care with NFACC

  • The Code of Practice for the Care and Handling of Dairy Cattle was published in 2009, in conjunction with NFACC
  • An assessment program that verifies dairy farmers respect the Code of Practice was developed in 2012-13

Train all farms on the assessment program

  • 2013: A first pilot project was conducted to test the first draft assessment program, developed under the NFACC framework
  • 2014: A manual for dairy farmers was developed
  • 2014-15: Training material was developed and a second pilot project was conducted
  • 2015: Start the roll-out on all farms, according to the Canadian Quality Milk calendar

Dairy farmers invest in cow comfort

  • Over $200 million is invested annually in housing, technology and equipment to improve cow comfort
    • Cows’ hooves are trimmed (cow pedicures)
    • Cow stalls have bedding (beach sand, straw/shaving and/or mattresses)
    • Farmers take courses offered by Valacta, CowSignals®, and other programs designed to help them identify ways to improve cow comfort on farms

Veterinarians are an integral part of herd health program 

  • Veterinarians help dairy farmers monitor cow health, and prevent health issues 

Cows are classified by Holstein Canada 

  • 68% of farms take advantage of (and pay for) classifying service, which includes measures of animal health and well-being
  • 264,000 cows were classified in 2014
Last updated: 15/04/2016

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