Open Letter to Dairy Managers
The animal activists used a video to create the false impression that all dairies abuse all animals; they want consumers to turn away from dairy products. The scenes are not typical. A dairy that respects each cow does not abuse animals in the milking parlor, or anywhere. Images portray milkers beating their animals. Implements used in the video are commonly found on a dairy.
Project "In Charge" principles were violated as no responsible person appeared to be in charge to stop the animal treatments/violations of common dairy animal care guidelines. It would appear that protocols for animal treatment and handling are not in place - or enforced. Following "hiring strategies" could eliminate risk of undercover employees at your dairy.
Use the example of this "event" to pull your management team together, view the video clip on YouTube and follow the discussion guide. The results will lead to an evaluation of your supervision, employee training and protocols in place on your dairy . . . before your dairy can be "featured" on an undercover video clip.
Your mental attitude is reflected by your actions. There are no vocals from the dairy accompanying the video footage but actions on the video represent an attitude of frustration and aggressiveness toward the cows. Employee training on animal handling practices, especially in the milking parlor, is essential. NOTE: the video was tied to a prominent milk cooperative and viewers are urged not to consume milk or cheese. Choosing NOT to purchase or consume dairy products is the real message being promoted to consumers.
Treating cows with dignity
Dairy cows deserve to be treated with respect and dignity. Animal care should be based on gentle cow management. The modern dairy has a plan for making sure employees respect the cows' dignity. These employees may have ignored protocols in place. Under the existing circumstances they were not treating the cows with dignity. Keep in mind a situation may be staged on your dairy for a video.
Dairy Cows give milk and are harvested for meat. Our social license requires that animal caretakers should respect the cow and use gentle animal handling practices. Cows that are fearful will be uncooperative. Bruises and injection sites or open cuts will reduce the carcass quality for the marketed cow. The employees in the video clearly violated the expectations of any consumer. Any time animal abuse is publicized the consumer turns the event into a food safety issue. Many consumers would feel that the meat and milk is unsafe.
All food production practices are now under review by society. Animal care, health and treatment should be managed as if the practice was going to be on the six o'clock news. Transparency should communicate high quality animal care from birth to market. Pre-harvest actions are as important as actions in a packing plant. If unusual activities do not follow protocols, a supervisor needs to be notified immediately. Consumers need to know that milk producers care about their cows!
Additional sources of information for SOPs for your dairy are:
1 - Down Cow SOP . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Animart (866) 986-9404
2 - Pennsylvania Dairy Animal Care . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Page 44 & 45
3 - Downer Action Plan . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . California Dairy Quality Assurance Program
4 - AABP Position Statement . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Non-ambulatory Cattle - AABP
email us if you know of additional sources or would like to be removed from this mailing at InCharge@agri-ed.com