The proAction Initiative: What it means for the dairy industry and its consumers.
Canadian dairy farmers are very proud people. They are proud of their work and the quality of the product that they provide consumers with everyday. They, however, also have to fight to keep their good reputation like many other animal industries. This is done by following strict regulation that is set up by the dairy industry itself.
In 1997, an initiative called Canadian Quality Milk (CQM) was created by Dairy Farmers of Canada (DFC) in order to be proactive and prepared for when consumers began to demand for on-farm food safety regulations (DFC, 2005). This program was the first step of a larger six module initiative created by DFC where each module would be implemented at different stages to make the transition easier for dairy producers. This larger initiative would be known as proAction and the six modules included Milk Quality, Food Safety, Animal Care, Traceability, Biosecurity and Environment (DFC, 2015). Milk Quality and Food safety were implemented in 2015 with 99% of the farms being registered in 2016 (DFC, 2016).
The next module that is being introduced to farmers is that of Animal Care. This module is concerned with animal health, comfort and their care. Since 1996, DFC has invested in animal care research with the aim to improve these three topics. In 2009, the Code of Practice was updated to ensure proper handling and care of dairy cattle. This module was implemented in September of 2016 with Holstein Canada assessing animal care and comfort on every single dairy farm in Canada. DFC also continuously work to improve animal care alongside of National Farm Animal Care Council (NFACC) (DFC, 2016). The code of Practice for dairy cattle include six sections: Accommodation, Housing and handling facilities, Feed and Water, Health and Welfare Management Husbandry Practices, Transportation and Euthanasia (NFACC, 2009). Animal Traceability is also being implemented at the same time as Animal Care. Traceability will allow for the industry to know exactly where the animal has been throughout its life including any contact it may have had with other animals at any point. This module helps to increase the trust between consumers and producers by letting them know where their food is coming from (DFC, 2016).
There is often concerns for why newborn calves are separated from their mother not long after being born. Producers do this to keep the calf safe and healthy. Cows can be major source of bacteria and illnesses for a newborn calf which is why calves are removed from their mother after she has cleaned the calf. Calves, unlike human babies, are born without an immune system since the placenta does not allow the transfer of antibodies (immunoglobulins) from the mother to the fetus during pregnancy. They only receive an immune system through drinking colostrum. Colostrum is the first milk a cow gives after calving. It contains antibodies along with many nutrients and provides warmth to the calf. Best practices include feeding the calf 4L of high quality, clean colostrum within one hour of birth with a second feeding of 2-3L of colostrum within the next 8 hours (OMAFRA, 2008; NFACC, 2009). Calves are also removed from the mother in cases where she is aggressive towards the calf and the producer does not want to risk the calf being injured.
The proAction initiative is essential to the success of the dairy industry in the future. Consumers are wanting to know more and more about what goes on on farms and want to know that the products that they are eating and using are safe and health for them all the while that they were produced in the best possible way. The last three modules are to be all implemented by 2023 which allows time for training and validation on all farms (DFC, 2017).
Dairy Farmers of Canada. 2005. Canadian Quality Milk – History and Benefits. Available at https://www.dairyfarmers.ca/content/download/…/CQMHistoryDec05.pdf (accessed February 8, 2017). Dairy Farmers of Canada, Ottawa, ON.
Dairy Farmers of Canada. 2015. proAction Implementation Guide. Available at https://www.dairyfarmers.ca/proaction/resources/overview (accessed February 8, 2017). Dairy Farmers of Canada, Ottawa, ON.
Dairy Farmers of Canada. 2016. Animal Care – Targets & Achievements. Available at https://www.dairyfarmers.ca/proaction/targets-achievements/animal-care (accessed February 8, 2017). Dairy Farmers of Canada, Ottawa, ON.
Dairy Farmers of Canada. 2016. Food Safety – Targets & Achievements. Available at https://www.dairyfarmers.ca/proaction/targets-achievements/food-safety (accessed February 8, 2017). Dairy Farmers of Canada, Ottawa, ON.
Dairy Farmers of Canada. 2016. What is proAction? – Traceability. Available at https://www.dairyfarmers.ca/proaction#traceability (accessed February 8, 2017). Dairy Farmers of Canada, Ottawa, ON.
Dairy Farmers of Canada. 2017. ProAction – Technical Resources Overview. Available at https://www.dairyfarmers.ca/proaction/resources/overview (accessed February 8, 2017). Dairy Farmers of Canada, Ottawa, ON.
National Farm Animal Care Council. 2009. Code of Practice for the Care and Handling of Dairy Cattle. Available at http://www.nfacc.ca/codes-of-practice/dairy-cattle (accessed February 8, 2017). National Farm Animal Care Council, Lacombe, AB.
OMAFRA. 2008. Colostrum for Dairy Calf- Factsheet. Available at http://www.omafra.gov.on.ca/english/livestock/veal/facts/08-001.htm (accessed February 8, 2017). Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs, Guelph, ON.