This Fact Sheet describes Good Agricultural Practices (GAP) to ensure animals that produce milk are healthy and there is an effective health care programme in place. The GAP may be superseded by national, international or market demands in many dairy-producing countries.
The suggested GAP for animal health are set out under the following headings:
1.1. Prevent entry of disease onto the farm.
1.2. Have an effective herd health/disease management programme in place.
1.3. Use veterinary drugs as prescribed by veterinarians or as specified on the label.
1.4. Train all people appropriately.
1.1 Prevent entry of disease onto the farm
1.1.1 Only buy animals of known health status and control their introduction onto the farm
The most effective way to prevent the movement of infectious diseases is to keep a closed herd. This means no new animals enter the herd and previously resident cattle do not re-enter after they have left the herd. This is difficult to achieve in practice, so strict control of any animal introductions is essential. Increased risk of disease may also occur when animals share grazing or other facilities.
Prior to being introduced to the farm, all cattle should be screened for diseases, especially those common to their area of origin and new location. This means all cattle should have:
an identification system to enable trace back to their source (a birth to death identification system); and
some form of Vendor Declaration that lists the disease status of cattle and any appropriate treatments/vaccinations, etc, that have been or are being carried out (this means potential sellers of cattle must keep appropriate permanent records of diseases and treatments).
Where health status is unknown, cattle to be introduced to the farm should be kept under quarantine separate to the existing herd for an appropriate length of time. Keep records of all animal movements to and from the farm.
1.1.2 Ensure cattle transport on and off the farm does not introduce disease
Potential buyers of live cattle should always ask and be told if the animals are sick or diseased. Preferably, no sick or infirm cattle should be transported live. A suitably trained operative or a veterinarian should carry out any killing required on-farm. All dead animals should be removed or buried according to local regulations.
The disposal of diseased and dead animals should be done in a way that minimizes the risk of disease spread, for example transport vehicles should not pick up dead or diseased cattle from one farm and move to another farm to pick up, without taking appropriate actions to minimize the risk of spreading disease.
1.1.3 Have secure boundaries/fencing
Contain animals appropriately to ensure there is no risk of disease spread between farms and within farms.
1.1.4 If possible, limit access of people and wildlife to the farm
People (and vehicles) visiting a number of farms may spread disease between the farms. Restrict access to an as needs basis and put in place appropriate processes to minimize disease spread (for example keep tanker tracks or tyres/milk pick up tracks or tyres clear of faecal contamination). Use protective clothing and footwear and keep records of all visitors as appropriate. Disease can be spread from and to humans and wildlife.
1.1.5 Have a vermin control programme in place
Ensure that appropriate vermin controls are in place in all areas where vermin could introduce disease (for example milking shed, feed storage, animal housing). Vermin includes wild animals as well as rodents, birds and insects.
1.1.6 Only use clean equipment from a known source
Ensure all equipment is clean and you know the history of where the equipment comes from and how it has been used. Take extra care with shared or borrowed equipment.
1.2 Have an effective herd health management programme in place
1.2.1 Use an identification system that allows all animals to be identified individually from birth to death
Cows should be easily identifiable by all people who come in contact with them. The systems used should be permanent and unique allowing individual animals to be identified from birth to death. Examples of identification systems include ear tagging, tattooing, freeze branding and microchips.
1.2.2 Develop an effective herd health management programme focused on prevention that meets the farm needs as well as regional and national requirements
Herd health management programmes should consist of treatment plans to deal with any currently occurring diseases as well as a preventive programme. A preventive programme should cover all aspects of the hygienic production of milk as well as all dairy farm management practices.
Where effective vaccines are available, they may be used to increase resistance to disease.
Prophylactic treatments may be required as protective measures when no viable alternative strategy exists.
Develop effective herd health treatments in consultation with appropriately skilled people such as veterinarians.
1.2.3 Regularly check animals for signs of disease
Observe all animals regularly and use proven methods to aid in detection and accurate diagnosis of infectious disease. Some useful tools may include rectal thermometers, observations of cow movements and body condition, and examination of foremilk. Many diseases are associated with the reproductive cycle - detailed breeding records should be kept and animals observed at appropriate stages.
Lameness should be investigated to determine underlying causes so that animals can be treated and further cases can be prevented.
1.2.4 Sick animals should be attended to quickly and in an appropriate way
Treat all disease, injury and poor health by proven methods after accurate diagnosis. Treat diseased animals appropriately to minimize the prevalence of infection and the source of pathogens.
1.2.5 Keep sick animals isolated and separate milk from sick animals and animals under treatment
To minimize the spread of disease, keep sick animals isolated from other cattle on the premises. Follow appropriate procedures to separate milk from sick animals and animals under treatment (.for example milk those animals last into a separate vat or container). Provide separate facilities if possible.
1.2.6 Keep written records of all treatments and identify treated animals appropriately
It is important that all outside people (for example veterinarians, etc) and any others involved with handling dairy cattle on the farm know what treatments have been given to cows. Put in place an appropriate system to readily identify treated animals (for example paint udders treated for mastitis).
1.2.7 Manage animal diseases affecting public health (zoonoses)
Keep zoonoses in animals at a level that is not a health hazard to people, avoid direct transmission through appropriate management practices and prevent contamination of milk.
1.3 Use all chemicals and veterinary medicines as prescribed
1.3.1 Use chemicals according to directions, calculate dosages carefully and observe appropriate withholding periods
Residues of any chemical administered have the potential to damage milk markets. Farmers should manage the use of all chemicals to prevent:
unacceptable chemical residues occurring in milk; and
unsuitable chemicals adversely affecting animal health and productivity.
Be aware of all chemicals that may leave residues in milk. These may include detergents, disinfectants, anti-parasitics, antibiotics, herbicides, pesticides and fungicides.
use chemicals only for the purpose for which they are approved - lactating cows should never be treated with veterinary products that are not recommended for treatment of cows producing milk supplied for processing or otherwise used for human consumption;
read the label - it should contain all the information about legal and safe use of the chemical;
follow the advice given on the label and any chemical data sheet or risk assessment;
observe withholding periods (the minimum times when milk should not be sold for human consumption after application of chemicals).
1.3.2 Only use veterinary medicines as prescribed by veterinarians and observe specified withholding periods
Note: Veterinary medicines are chemical and biological products sold for the treatment of animals where evidence of proven efficacy and safety have been examined by independent review bodies to ensure that the products are suitable for their purpose. These medicines may require a prescription from a veterinarian to allow purchase and to confirm that their use is appropriate.
Use medicines to treat animals after veterinary advice. Only use officially approved medicines at the recommended doses and treatment regimes according to the label or as advised by a veterinarian. The use of medicines contrary to the label recommendations is termed off-label use and may require additional milk withholding times. In the event that off-label use is essential to treat specific conditions it must only occur under strict veterinary supervision and in compliance with national/regional regulations.
All veterinary medicines and chemicals intended for treatment of food-producing animals should have a withholding period stated on the label. If label directions are not strictly followed, the stated withholding period will not be valid.
1.3.3 Store chemicals and veterinary medicines securely and dispose of them responsibly
Store chemicals and veterinary medicines securely to ensure they are not used inappropriately or do not unintentionally contaminate milk and feed. They should also be disposed of in a way that will not cause contamination to animals or the farm environment.
1.4 Train people appropriately
1.4.1 Have procedures in place for detecting and handling sick animals and veterinary chemicals
It is important to ensure a consistent approach to herd health, so people need to be aware of and understand the animal health strategy of the farm.
It is good practice to have a written procedure on how to carry out a task in a controlled and repeatable manner. It should cover all requirements to carry out the task, including details of process, equipment and materials, including any relevant risk and safety problems.
1.4.2 Make sure all people are sufficiently trained to carry out their tasks
Training is an ongoing process and all people should undergo continued training/improvement. People should be competent to understand the reasoning behind actions. This should also help monitor procedures and provide feedback for continual improvement. Identify who is responsible for particular actions.
1.4.3 Choose competent sources for advice and interventions
Choose competent/registered professionals to undertake treatments, etc. Only seek and act on advice from sources and individuals that are properly qualified.
Milking is the most important single activity on the dairy farm. Consumers demand high standards of milk quality, so milking management aims to minimize microbial, chemical and physical contamination. Milking management covers all aspects of the process of obtaining milk from cows quickly and effectively, while assuring the health of the cows and the quality of the milk.
Consistency in the day-to-day implementation of milking procedures is an important part of Good Agricultural Practices (GAP) for milking.
This Fact Sheet describes GAP to ensure milk is harvested and stored under hygienic conditions, and equipment used to harvest and store milk is well maintained. The suggested GAP for milking hygiene are set out under the following headings:
Ensure milking routines do not injure cows or introduce contaminants in milk
Ensure milking is carried out under hygienic conditions
Ensure milk is handled properly after milking
Note: These GAP do not cover automatic milking for which IDF has published a separate Code of Good Hygienic Practices for Milking with Automatic Milking Systems, Bulletin of the IDF No. 386/2004, ISSN 0250-5118.
2.1 Ensure milking routines do not injure cows or introduce contaminants to milk
2.1.1 Uniquely identify individual animals
Cows should be easily identifiable by all people who come in contact with them. The systems used should be permanent and unique allowing individual animals to be identified from birth to death.
Individual cows that need to be identified for specific reasons (for example fresh, dry, treated cows, or cows with abnormal milk through disease or animal treatments such as antibiotics) should be additionally identified.
2.1.2 Ensure appropriate udder preparation for milking
Only milk cows with clean, dry teats:
wash and dry dirty teats;
dry wet teats and udders before milking;
have clean water available throughout the milking time.
Check udder and teats for any changes (for example clinical mastitis). Before a cow is milked, the foremilk should be extracted and checked for abnormalities. This may be a requirement in national legislation.
2.1.3 Ensure consistent milking techniques
Ensure good milking techniques; incorrect techniques can result in a higher mastitis risk and injury to the cow.
The correct technique is to:
prepare cows well before milking;
avoid unnecessary air ingress at cup attachment, if applicable;
remove cups gently, if applicable.
2.1.4 Separate milk from sick or treated animals
Cows whose milk is unfit for human consumption should be milked last or with a separate bucket or system. Discard abnormal milk in a manner appropriate to the risk posed.
2.1.5 Ensure milking equipment is correctly installed and maintained
Ensure milking equipment is clean before each use. If mobile milking equipment is used, this may mean cleaning between each use.
Manufacturers and local, regional or national recommendations should be followed for construction, installation, performance and maintenance of the equipment used for milking. Follow the manufacturers instructions when using cleaning and disinfecting agents on milking equipment. Materials used for milking equipment that come into contact with milk and with cleaning and disinfecting fluids should be made from adequately resistant materials and should not impart a taint to milk.
Cleaning and disinfecting agents should be chosen and used to ensure that they do not have an adverse effect on the milk.
Follow the manufacturers instructions when using chemicals, pesticides or cleaning agents in the dairy and the milking shed. Store all chemicals, other than those in routine use, in a lockable area away from the dairy. Where required, all vermin, bird and insect control methods or products must be approved for use.
2.1.6 Ensure a sufficient supply of clean water
A sufficient supply of clean water should be available for milking operations and for cleaning equipment that comes into contact with milk.
2.2 Ensure milking is carried out under hygienic conditions
2.2.1 Ensure housing environment is clean at all times
A high standard of cleanliness should be maintained at all times in the housing area, where used. The housing area should be:
designed to provide good drainage and ventilation and to avoid animal injury
of suitable size and designed to match the size of the animal.
All stalls and beds should be kept clean and dry, with adequate bedding. Regularly clean or scrape passageways to remove manure.
2.2.2 Ensure milking area is kept clean
The milking area should be designed to allow it to be kept clean and tidy. It should:
be easy to clean;
have a clean water supply;
have waste handling facilities;
have sufficient temperature regulation and light.
Construct collecting yards to enable a high standard of cleanliness to be maintained.
2.2.3 Ensure the milkers follow basic hygiene rules
The milker should:
wear suitable and clean working clothes;
keep hands and arms clean especially when milking;
cover cuts or wounds;
not have any infectious disease.
2.3 Ensure milk is handled properly after milking
2.3.1 Ensure milk is cooled in the specified time
Cool milk as soon as possible after milking to the required storage temperature and within the specified time. Cooling times and storage temperatures should conform to limits set by national legislation.
2.3.2 Ensure milk storage area is clean and tidy
Milk should be stored away from the milking area. The milk storage area should:
be clean and clear of accumulated rubbish, any products or chemical substances not in constant use and any feedstuffs;
have hand washing and drying facilities;
be easy to clean and have a pest control system
2.3.3 Ensure milk storage equipment is adequate to hold milk at the specified temperature
Ensure milk storage equipment is cleaned before each use, preferably immediately after milk collection.
The storage equipment should be capable of holding milk at required temperature until collection time, and be constructed in materials that do not taint the milk.
Bulk tanks should be built to recognized standards and milk refrigeration systems should have a regular maintenance and service programme to prevent breakdowns. The bulk tank should be equipped with a thermometer to check the temperature of the milk and appropriate records kept of storage temperatures. Ensure that all the equipment is working properly.
2.3.4 Ensure unobstructed access for bulk milk collection
Provide unobstructed access to the milk storage area to enable the safe collection of milk. Access to the milk collection areas should be free of animal pathways.
An animals health and productivity, along with the quality and safety of her milk, depend on the quality and management of the feed and water. Milk quality can also be affected adversely by the quality of water used to clean milking equipment and the milk house. If the water is contaminated, the contaminants may cause milk safety and quality to suffer.
This Fact Sheet describes Good Agricultural Practices (GAP) for managing the safety of feed and water supply for dairy cattle. The suggested GAPs are set out under the following headings:
Ensure animal feed and water are of adequate quality.
Control storage conditions of feed
Ensure the traceability of feedstuffs bought off farm
3.1 Ensure animal feed and water are of adequate quality
3.1.1 Ensure the nutritional needs of animals are met
Animals should be fed sufficient feed and water daily, according to their physiological needs. The quality and quantity of the feed, including appropriate fibre, should reflect the animals age, body weight, stage of lactation, production level, growth, pregnancy, activity and climate.
3.1.2. Ensure good quality water supplies are provided, regularly checked and maintained
Fence stock water supplies to protect them from unintentional contamination. Water supplies should be clear and free of excrement.
Many contaminants can enter water supplies and threaten the health or safety of people, livestock and the milking equipment rinsed with the contaminated water. The most common contaminants include pathogenic microorganisms (for example Escherichia coli bacteria) as well as toxic chemicals such as pesticides, petroleum and solvents, and nitrates.
If there are any concerns about the suitability of water for use as stock water, contact the relevant authorities and have your water tested.
3.1.3 Use different equipment for handling chemicals and feed stuffs
Never use equipment or facilities meant for dairy use to mix agricultural chemicals and/or veterinary chemicals - residues can remain on equipment or allow cross-contamination through spills, air dispersal, back-siphoning effects, etc.
3.1.4 Ensure chemicals are used appropriately on pastures and forage crops
Maintain stringent paddock records of all chemical applications to crops and pastures, and ensure withholding periods are closely observed. Always follow the label for application rates and withholding times. Note and follow Days Before Grazing intervals before allowing animals access to a treated field for grazing. Follow Pre-harvesting Intervals or Days To Harvest for forage fields.
Check pasture for signs of pesticide drift. Look for herbicide injury symptoms on forage plants. If symptoms are present, investigate further before allowing animals to graze.
Be aware of the potential for spray drift when applying agricultural chemicals to pastures/crops. This applies to neighbouring farms also. Take adequate precautions when allowing stock to drink the water after spray applications.
Find out about the past and present use of chemicals on your farm and neighbouring properties as spray drift may be a potential source of residues. When buying pasture/land, always obtain information on the paddocks previous history of agricultural chemical use and/or a soil/plant test, if required.
3.1.5 Only use approved chemicals for treatment of animal feeds or components of animal feeds and observe withholding periods
Only chemicals approved for use in dairy operations should be used and managed in a manner that avoids their accidental introduction into the feed and water and, as a result, into milk.
Use chemicals in accordance with manufacturers recommendations. Check labels of all chemicals that are to be used around, on or in feeds or pastures for compatibility with food-producing animals, withdrawal requirements for milk, and proper application rates and concentrations of products.
Withholding periods may also apply to pastures, forage crops and stored grains if they have been treated with an agricultural chemical. In this case, the withholding period is the minimum period of time that must elapse between the treatment of the pasture, crop or grain and when it can be grazed or harvested for feeding to stock, whichever is applicable. Different withholding periods may apply if the crop is also intended for human consumption.
3.2 Control storage conditions of feed
3.2.1 Separate feeds intended for different species
No animal material should be included in dairy cattle feed rations. National regulations need to be observed.
3.2.2 Ensure appropriate storage conditions to avoid feed contamination
Ensure animals are not able to come into contact with contaminants in areas where these products are stored and mixed. These areas should be well ventilated as toxic fumes may be given off. Ensure that feed is protected from contaminants. Store and handle pesticides, treated seeds, medicated feed and fertilizers properly. Store herbicides separately from other agricultural chemicals, fertilizers and seeds.
Provide an appropriate vermin control programme for stored feed.
Hay and dry feeds should be protected from a moist environment. Silage and other fermented crops should be kept under hermetically sealed conditions.
3.2.4 Reject mouldy feed
Avoid feeding any mouldy stockfeed to milking cows (take particular care with brewers grain, silage, hay, sugar beet pulp and grain) as these can contain poisonous fungal toxins that can be transferred to milk.
3.3 Ensure the traceability of feedstuffs bought off the farm
3.3.1 All suppliers of animal feeds should have an approved quality assurance programme in place
If you buy in feed, ensure the feed supplier has an assurance programme in place, can monitor appropriate residues and diseases and can trace the ingredients used back to their source. Ask for relevant Vendor Declarations.
3.3.2 Maintain records of all feed or feed ingredients received on the farm (specified bills or delivery notes on order)
Have an appropriate system in place to record and trace all feed or feed ingredients received onto your farm. Make sure you can identify and trace all treatments applied to feeds on-farm (including crop and grain treatments).
In essence, animal welfare is the application of sensible and sensitive animal husbandry practices to the livestock on the farm. Animal welfare is primarily concerned with the well-being of the animal. In general, consumers perceive high animal welfare standards as an indicator that food is safe, healthy and of high quality. Animal welfare standards have been incorporated into most on-farm food quality and food safety schemes. Animal welfare codes usually list five basic freedoms that should underpin best farm practice in relation to animal welfare. These five freedoms provide a comprehensive overall concept of animal welfare. This Fact Sheet describes Good Agricultural Practices (GAP) for animal welfare. They are set out to reflect the five basic freedoms:
Ensure animals are free from thirst, hunger and malnutrition
Ensure animals are free from discomfort
Ensure animals are free from pain, injury and disease
Ensure animals are free from fear
Ensure animals can engage in relatively normal patterns of animal behaviour
4.1 Ensure animals are free from thirst, hunger and malnutrition
4.1.1 Provide sufficient feed (forage and/or fodder) and water every day When feeding animals, they should be given sufficient feed, based on their physiological needs (according to age, body weight, stage of lactation, production level, growth, pregnancy, activity and climate). The quality of the feed needs to be considered. If animals are on poor quality pasture, additional forage may be required to meet the animals needs.
Consider the quality and nutrient content of fresh or preserved forage according to the animals needs. Animals should be fed a balanced diet (including sufficient fibre).
Animals should have access to clean water.
4.1.2 Adjust stocking rates and/or supplementary feeding to ensure adequate water, feed and fodder supply
Due consideration should be given to the number of animals, physiological needs and nutrient quality of feeds when determining stocking rates, and all animals should have access to sufficient daily water.
4.1.3 Protect animals from toxic plants and other harmful substances
Protect animals from access to toxic plants. Do not feed animals mouldy feeds.
Store chemicals securely to avoid contamination of pastures, and observe proper withholding periods for pasture and forage treatments.
4.1.4 Provide water supplies of good quality that are regularly checked and maintained
Cattle should have free access to a clean fresh water supply. Regularly clean water troughs or drinkers and inspect them to ensure they are fully functional. The water supply should be adequate to meet peak animal requirements, that is drinkers should fill sufficiently quickly to avoid any animals in a group remaining thirsty. All reasonable steps should be taken to minimize the risks of the water supply freezing or overheating, as appropriate.
Runoff from effluent and chemical treatments of pasture and forage crops should not enter stock water supplies.
4.2 Ensure animals are free from discomfort
4.2.1 Design and construct buildings to be free of obstructions and hazards
Consideration should be given to the free flow of animals when designing and building animal housing and/or milking sheds. Avoid dead ends, and steep and slippery pathways.
4.2.2 Where relevant, provide adequate space allowances and clean bedding
Avoid overcrowding of animals, even for short periods. Animals should have clean bedding, whether this is through straw (or equivalent) bedding or clean pastures.
4.2.3 Protect animals from adverse weather conditions and the consequences thereof
As far as practicable, protect animals from adverse weather conditions and the consequences thereof. This includes such stress factors as weather extremes, forage shortages, unseasonal change and others causing cold or heat stress. Consider shade or alternative means of cooling (for example misters and sprays), shelter (for example windbreaks) and additional fodder. Have plans for protection against natural disasters, for example fire, drought, snow, flood; include provision of high ground in case of flood, provide adequate firebreaks and have evacuation provisions.
4.2.4 Provide housed animals with adequate ventilation
All animal housing should be adequately ventilated allowing sufficient supply of fresh air to remove humidity, allow heat dissipation and prevent build-up of gases such as carbon dioxide, ammonia or slurry gases.
4.2.5 Provide non-slippery floors
Floors should be constructed to minimize slipping and bruising due to rough uneven floors. Unsuitable floors may inhibit mounting or lead to injuries during mating.
4.3 Ensure animals are free from pain, injury and disease
4.3.1 Have an effective herd health management programme in place and inspect animals regularly
Animals should be regularly checked to detect injury and/or disease. See the Animal Health Fact Sheet for further details.
4.3.2 Protect against lameness
Laneways, yards, milking stalls and housing should be constructed to minimize the incidence of lameness. Cows should be fed to minimize lameness. Lameness should be investigated to determine underlying causes and treated appropriately.
4.3.3 Lactating animals should be milked regularly
Establish a regular milking routine that recognizes the stage of lactation and does not overly stress the animals.
4.3.4 Do not use procedures and processes that cause unnecessary pain
People carrying out veterinary related tasks should be able to demonstrate competency, especially for procedures that could cause suffering for example disbudding/dehorning, castration, etc. Adhere to national regulations with respect to these and other practices (such as hot branding, tail docking, amputations, etc). Good hygiene is essential for surgical-type procedures. Consider alternative animal husbandry practices if appropriate.
4.3.5 Follow appropriate calving and weaning practices
Develop an appropriate calving plan that considers such issues as choice of bull (for ease of calving); safe calving facilities; and regular checking of animals to ensure prompt, experienced help if required.
Calves should have access to colostrum soon after birth.
4.3.6 Have appropriate procedures for marketing calves
Newborn calves should not be offered for sale until sufficiently hardy (for example adequate body weight and dry navel). Appropriate transport conditions should also be followed. Follow national regulations, if applicable.
4.3.7 When animals have to be killed on-farm, avoid unnecessary pain
When it is necessary to kill sick or diseased animals, or those in pain, it should be done in such a manner as to avoid unnecessary pain.
4.3.8 Avoid poor milking practices as they may injure cattle
Poor milking practices can affect cow well-being and production. Milking equipment should be well maintained and regularly serviced.
4.4 Ensure animals are free from fear
4.4.1 Provide competent animal husbandry skills and appropriate training
Good animal husbandry is a key factor in animal welfare. Without competent, diligent care of animals their welfare will be compromised.
A competent operator should be able to:
recognize whether or not the animals are in good health;
understand the significance of a change in the behaviour of the animals;
know when veterinary treatment is required;
implement a planned herd health management programme (for example preventive treatments or vaccination programmes if necessary);
implement appropriate animal feeding and grassland management programmes;
recognize if the general environment (indoors or outdoors) is adequate to promote good health and welfare;
have management skills appropriate to the scale and technical requirements of the production system; and
handle animals compassionately and in an appropriate manner, anticipate potential problems and take the necessary preventive action.
Operators should be familiar with and comply with all relevant national regulations and key industry standards/assurance schemes relating to product quality/safety, etc. Operators should ensure records are maintained to demonstrate compliance with regulations or assurance schemes. People already involved in animal management/husbandry should keep themselves updated on technological developments that can prevent or correct welfare problems.
4.5 Ensure animals can engage in relatively normal patterns of animal behaviour
4.5.1 Have herd management and husbandry procedures that do not unnecessarily compromise social activity
Cattle are gregarious animals. Use herd management and husbandry procedures that do not unnecessarily compromise social activity, for example sleeping positions or mating. This also means sufficient space should be provided.
During the daily inspection(s) of animals, check for any abnormal behaviour.
Ensure each animal has adequate space to feed appropriately and actually is feeding. Failure by an animal to feed may be an early indication of illness.
Stock bulls should be managed and handled in a manner that promotes good temperament.
Increasingly, consumers are concerned that the production of food is undertaken in harmony with the environment. To meet these concerns it is important that farmers produce milk in a way that minimizes any damage to the environment. The biggest potential source of environmental damage is from pollution caused by manures, slurry, silage liquor, etc.
The suggested Good Agricultural Practices for the Environment are set out under the following headings:
Have an appropriate waste management system.
Ensure dairy farming practices do not have an adverse impact on the local environment.
5.1 Have an appropriate waste management system
5.1.1 Ensure wastes are stored to minimize the risk of environmental pollution
Waste storage areas for example: manure heaps and slurry stores, should be sited appropriately. Regularly inspect permanent slurry stores and manure heaps for signs of leaks and impending structural failure to minimize the risk of runoff polluting the environment. Ensure other wastes such as plastic silage wrap are disposed of appropriately to prevent pollution of the environment.
5.1.2 Manage pastures to avoid effluent runoff by spreading farm manures in accordance with local conditions
Consider weather conditions and soil types before spreading manures. Use appropriate measures for example. wider buffer zones, to prevent manure from entering watercourses.
Consider adopting a manure management plan that identifies areas where there is a high risk of pollution on the farm. If spreading manure to land, follow statutory rates of application.
All organic manures - including slurries - should be incorporated into soil as soon as is practical, taking account of soil conditions and prevailing weather conditions. Manure and fertilizer should not be applied to waterlogged, steep or frozen ground where there is a risk of runoff.
A simple waste management plan will help identify when, where and at what rate to spread manures, slurry and other organic wastes to minimize the risk of causing pollution.
Waste management plans should give due consideration to:
avoiding possible pollution of watercourses, ponds, lakes, reservoirs, wells, boreholes, underground water (shallow soils, fissured rock)
avoiding potential pollution of habitat areas (e.g. woodlands, protected or recognized flora or fauna zones)
ensuring that adequate buffer zones (non-spread areas) are maintained near vulnerable or sensitive areas (e.g. water sources, habitat areas)
timing and level of application on sloped ground, heavy or impermeable soils and areas subject to flooding
optimum application levels on areas that have a high soil fertility status (e.g. high soil phosphorus)
current or impending weather and soil conditions at the time of application (frost, frozen ground; heavy rainfall waterlogged soils)
national and regional environmental controls.
5.2 Ensure dairy farming practices do not have an adverse impact on the local environment
5.2.1 Contain dairy runoff on-farm
Farmers should adopt systems that avoid the potential for the contamination of the local environment.
Storage facilities for oil, silage liquor, soiled water and other polluting substances must be located in a safe place and precautions must be taken to ensure that accidents do not result in the pollution of local water supplies.
Avoid using or disposing of agricultural or veterinary chemicals where drains, surface water or ground water can enter the local environment.
5.2.2 Use chemicals (fertilizers, agricultural and veterinary chemicals, pesticides, etc.) appropriately to avoid contamination of the local environment
The term agricultural chemicals includes farm chemicals (for example pasture sprays, herbicides and grain protectants) as well as detergents and sanitizers used in the dairy. Ensure safe and secure storage of farm chemicals away from the dairy.
Use only registered chemicals in the dairy and on the farm; read the label and strictly follow the instructions, including adhering to withholding periods, when using agricultural chemicals.
Ensure safe disposal of expired or defective chemicals and empty chemical containers.
5.2.3 Ensure overall appearance of the dairying operation is appropriate for a facility in which high-quality food is harvested
To limit the potential adverse impact of dairying on the landscape and to provide a positive image of dairy production, dairy farmers should ensure that access roads to their farms and the farm surroundings are clean, sheds are correctly maintained and that access roads used by cattle are free of effluent.