FARM Animal Care Program New 4.0 Update Amplifies Requirements for Dairies

Changes go into effect Jan. 1, 2020.

The National Milk Producers Federation (NMPF) has announced updates to animal care standards under the Farmers Assuring Responsible Management (FARM) Animal Care Program. FARM Animal Care standards are revised every three years to “reflect the most current science and best management practices within the dairy industry.”1 The revised 4.0 standards will be in effect Jan. 1, 2020 – Dec. 31, 2022.

Among the revisions are standards that now require:

  • 95% or more of lactating cows observed do not have broken tails
  • Pain mitigation must be provided for disbudding, which must occur before the calf reaches eight weeks of age
  • If tail docking is found to have continued to occur, immediate action must be taken to cease the practice
  • Employee training will also be required for family employees, while previously it was required for non-family employees
  • The dairy facility has a written protocol for fitness to transport that includes the definition of animals that are eligible to be marketed and outlines adherence to milk and meat withdrawal times
  • Check out this resource from NMPF, Dairy Management, Inc. and American Association for Bovine Practitioners: Top 10 Considerations for Culling and Transporting Dairy Animals
  • There are also requirements around feeding of pre-weaned calves and movement of calves from the maternity area, as well as moving and providing care to non-ambulatory animals

FARM 3.0 vs FARM 4.0: Read about the changes

Merck Animal Health developed Dairy Care365® to help dairy producers fulfill the animal care requirements of the FARM Program. Training and Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) cover animal handling, calf care, emergency care and biosecurity. “Merck Animal Health is committed to animal welfare, the dairy community and to our dairy men and women,” said Stephanie Meyers, dairy marketing manager for Merck Animal Health. “Dairy Care365 helps dairy caretakers provide the best care every day by teaching best practices in animal care at all stages of life.”

FARM animal care standards are reviewed and revised by the organization’s technical writing group and the NMPF Animal Health and Well-Being Committee. There also is a public comment period for input from the industry. Currently, 98% of the domestic U.S. milk supply participates in this important program.

Download FARM Animal Care version 4.0


1. National Milk Producers Federation. Farmers Assuring Responsible Management (FARM). FARM Animal Care Version 4.0. Accessed November 17, 2019.