The National Dairy Animal Well-Being Initiative unveiled its final principles and guidelines at World Dairy Expo in October.
The guidelines demonstrate the industry's commitment to "do the right thing” when it comes to caring for dairy animals, says Charlie Arnot, who worked with an industry coalition to develop the initiative.
The principles and guidelines are "a process, not an event,” Arnot says. They are "a start, not an end.”
"Like others involved in animal agriculture, dairy producers have an ethical obligation to care for our animals,” says Logan Bower, a dairy producer from Blain, Pa. "The principles and guidelines are a basic, uniform umbrella…that any on-farm dairy animal well-being program should include to meet those obligations.”
The industrywide coalition includes dairy producers, processors, cooperatives, allied industry, academics, associations and others.
Producers are encouraged to participate in on-farm animal well-being programs that are consistent with the principles and guidelines. These cover areas including nutrition, animal health, management, housing and facilities, third-party verification and handling, movement and transportation.
Product labeling or advertising by individual marketers is one way consumers are likely to know their milk products were produced under the animal well-being guidelines, says Joan Behr of Foremost Farms.
The first priority of the coalition now will be to communicate to dairy chain customers that "the industry is doing the right thing,” Arnot says.
The National Dairy Animal Well-Being Initiative was launched in October 2007 at World Dairy Expo. The final principles and guidelines released this October followed months of industry input and drafting.