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Moos News

Dairy Code of Practice – Important Dates

At a recent veterinary meeting, there were a number of questions brought up regarding changes to the Dairy Code of Practice that some of you may also be wondering. The main questions surrounded calf housing, freedom of movement, calving areas, electric trainers, and calf health benchmarks.

Calf Housing

In 2024, calves housed outdoors can be singly housed and tethered by a collar, but they must be able to have physical contact with other calves and be able to fully exit their shelter. Exceptions exist for inclement weather and health concerns.

Starting in 2031, calves housed indoors must be in groups by 4 weeks of age, provided that they are healthy. Calves may be isolated after this age temporarily if there are extenuating health reasons or to wait to create groups similar calves (allowing for compatibility between age, size, and drinking speed).

Freedom of Movement

Starting April 1st, 2024, all NEW build barns must allow daily, untethered freedom of movement and the ability for cows to socially interact year-round.

As of April 1st, 2027, cattle cannot be tethered continuously throughout their production cycle. At some point between calvings, they must be given “sufficient, regular opportunity for freedom of movement”. As it stands today, there is no clarification on how long or when in the cycle this will be required, but we are hoping there will be some further details once we learn how ProAction plans to measure and include this in the Animal Care module.

Calving Areas

For April 1st, 2024, all NEW barns must allow cows to calve in loose housing. This may be pens, yards, pasture, or other options.

As of April 1st, 2029, all barns (including existing structures) must allow cows to calve in loose housing.

Electric Trainers

The Code states that electric trainers must only be used while training or re-training an animal. One option is to raise the trainers further from the top line after the training period. 5cm or 2in is the advised position above the top line during training, which can then be raised to 10cm or 4in after training. The training period is recommended to be 24 hours.


Calf Health

The new requirement states “If mortality in female calves from 2 days of age exceeds 10%, corrective actions must be implemented to improve calving management and calf health in consultation with a veterinarian or other qualified advisor.” Unfortunately, it has not been made clear as to what interval of time (e.g. annually) this covers and up to what age of calf (e.g. pre-weaning). The Veterinary Consult for Dairy Farmers of Ontario has requested clarity on this item with respect to ProAction implementation of the requirement, but as of today’s writing we do not have an answer.

Recommended practices include consulting a veterinarian on calf health management as part of routine visits, which is a practice that we find most of our producers already follow and should help to stay on top of any morbidity/mortality changes that may occur before they get to the 10% mark.

With the new Dairy Code of Practice being released last year, these or other questions may have been circling your mind. If these quick updates haven’t eased your concerns, please reach out to your herd health veterinarian to discuss what these updates will mean for you and your farm practically in the upcoming years.

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