Change from Percentiles to Fixed Categories – peer reported zones are now fixed rather than based on percentiles across other herds. The thresholds have been established based on the benchmarks set by the first round of cattle assessments conducted across Canada. In other words, the score of your herd into green yellow or red zones for body condition, hocks, knees, neck, and lameness are based on percentage of animals categorized as acceptable vs needing corrective action in your herd, instead of being based on percentiles of other herds across the country.
Addition of Dark Red Category – (See the table below). You will notice as new category labelled as dark red. This is a temporary zone for herds scoring less than 60% acceptable in any category, which hopefully does not apply to any of our clients. This is a way to prioritize farms in need of the most improvement. Farms in this category must document and implement a corrective action plan in consultation with their veterinarian, nutritionist, or other dairy specialist. Farms with one or more results in the Dark Red Category must conduct their next cattle assessment in 12 months instead of the standard 24 months, as well as classify a higher number of animals within the herd. Farms must demonstrate improvement out of the dark red zone. Three consecutive Dark Red zone results for the same animal based measure will be assigned a major noncompliance during validation and those farms will not pass their ProAction validation to maintain registration.
Timeline for Changes – the effective date for these changes is March 2021. Beginning March 2023, the same expectations and timelines will be true for herds scoring in the red zone for any particular animal based measure. The rationale from DFO is that continuous improvement requirements are needed to clearly demonstrate every farm’s commitment to excellent animal care. Requiring mandatory improvement out of Dark Red, and eventually Red zones demonstrates to farmers, peers, customers, consumers and the public that animal care is a top priority and that meeting standards is expected and required.