WEBINAR PREVIEW: Preparing for the Unexpected

January 26, 2017 | 12:00 pm EST | Watch Here

Preparation is the key to avoiding an emergency and will save you valuable time, if and when an emergency happens on your farm. A preparedness plan should cover a variety of issues that could arise on the farm from a natural disaster to a herd health epidemic. In this webinar, Rick Jackson, U.S. dairy product manager, Merck Animal Health, explains how to develop an on-farm preparedness plan, as outlined in the Dairy C.A.R.E. Initiative, and walks through possible scenarios and how to put a plan in place to deal with them.


Rick Jackon
U.S. Dairy Product Manager
DeSoto, Kansas

Rick Jackson has made a lifelong commitment to the dairy industry. Growing up on a dairy in the Ottawa Valley in Canada, he began his career with a strong focus upon the care and well-being of animals.

After graduation from the University of Guelph, Rick entered the dairy cattle nutrition field, which again led to his focus on proper health, nutrition and care of dairy animals. His focus has led him into dairy management roles in New York, as well as Vermont.

Rick has been with Merck Animal Health for 10 years and is truly living his dream of helping someone every day. The C.A.R.E. initiative provides him with the ultimate opportunity to protect the dairy industry.


Why is the topic of emergency preparedness important to the dairy industry?
Proactive plus prepared equals protection for the dairy farmer, his/her animals and businesses. Dairy farmers spend their lives caring for their animals and producing nutritious products for consumer dinner tables. One unanticipated situation can quickly undo their great work and shake consumer confidence in the industry. Trying to figure out what to do in the middle of an emergency never puts anyone in the best position to respond. Anticipating those things that “could” happen and planning in advance to handle them takes the “heat out of the moment” and allows the industry to focus on what is most important to manage the situation at hand.

Where should a dairy farmer begin in order to develop a preparedness plan?
A risk ranking exercise is a great place to start when developing a preparedness plan in order to determine what is most likely to happen on your farm. There are some universal emergencies that could happen to anyone, like severe weather events, herd health issues or on-farm accidents. But, maybe you live close to an urban area and issues with neighbors are likely. Start by anticipating the unanticipated. Make a list of everything that could happen on your farm. Include possible issues like encountering community resistance to farm expansion. Assign a numerical probability of each event happening from one to 10 (one least likely, 10 very likely). Then assign a numerical rating to the impact it would have on your operation from one to 10 (one – very little impact, 10 – would shut your operation down). Now multiply those numbers: Likelihood x impact. You will quickly see the top three to five challenges you might face. Start with those and build your plan from there.

What are the key components of a preparedness plan?
A response team, an emergency contact list (required under FARM 3.0) and a plan to manage the flow of information to impacted audiences are three key components of any solid preparedness plan. Once you have identified the top three to five emergencies that could happen on your farm, put a team in place to help you manage them. Think through who you would ask to advise you (attorney? veterinarian?). Who will update your customers and employees? Who will inform stakeholders? Who will take care of the animals and secure your property? Who will speak to the media? Identifying your team and developing a plan to manage an emergency is very complicated in the heat of the moment, so take some time to thoughtfully prepare when things are calm.

What do you feel is the most important factor when managing an emergency?
A quick response to ensure that all people and animals are safe followed by open and transparent communication with impacted audiences. Safety is paramount – always. Then it is important to let your audience know what you are doing to manage and resolve the situation at hand.

Why is proper training important for dairy operations to implement in advance of an emergency?
Every farm with livestock should have a preparedness plan and a response team in place to handle emergency situations. It is vital that employees are trained on the plan and know who to call if they suspect an issue or need help.  They also need to know who will be communicating with them and what their roles are – or aren’t – to manage the situation.

How will FARM help industry stakeholders in the area of emergency preparedness? 
The FARM program and the National Milk Producers Federation are standing by to help in times of emergencies. Additionally, through partnerships with industry stakeholders, like Merck Animal Health, they are making tools and resources available to help dairy farmers put the policies and procedures in place to protect their animals and their businesses. The Merck Animal Health Dairy C.A.R.E. Initiative was developed to support the significant efforts of dairy producers to provide the best quality of care for their animals 24 x 7. It includes preparedness planning tools and templates, tips and guidance on how to prepare for the unexpected. The tools are available online at dairycare365.com, nationaldairyfarm.com, or you can speak to your Merck Animal Health sales representative.

This webinar is part the of the Merck Dairy C.A.R.E & FARM Animal Care Webinar series. You can view the FAQs and full schedule here.

WEBINAR PREVIEW: Pain Management

January 19, 2017 | 12:00 pm EST | Watch HereUnknown Object


Pain can be defined as an unpleasant physical sensation occurring in varying degrees of severity as consequence of injury, disease or from a medical or management procedure. The goal of any dairy is prevent animals from experiencing any type of pain throughout their lifetime to ensure their well-being. Unfortunately, there are times when painful procedures must be conducted for the animals’ health and safety and for employee safety. While necessary, it is critical to reduce the amount of pain animals experience during and after these procedures to ensure long term well-being and productivity. The webinar will discuss and provide pain mitigation options and management tools that producers can use in order to effectively manage pain that animals may experience during necessary procedures and in times of injury or disease.


Hans Coetzee DVM, PhD

Department of Anatomy and Physiology

Kansas State University

Dr. Hans Coetzee is a Professor and Head of the Department of Anatomy and Physiology at Kansas State University. He obtained his Bachelor of Veterinary Science degree from the University of Pretoria, South Africa in 1996. After graduation he worked for four years in mixed animal practice in Northern Ireland followed by 2 years in pharmaceutical research and development at Norbrook Laboratories Ltd. He received a specialist Certificate in Cattle Health and Production from the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons (London) in 2000 and a doctorate in Veterinary Microbiology from Iowa State University in 2005. He holds dual board certification in the American College of Veterinary Clinical Pharmacology and American College of Animal Welfare and is a European Specialist in Animal Welfare Science, Ethics and Law. His professional interests include the development of analgesic drug regimens for use in food animals and therapy of bovine anaplasmosis. He has published 108 peer-reviewed scientific papers and received over $8 million in research funding. In his free time he enjoys spending time with his wife and his twin daughters.

Q & A WITH DR. Coetzee

Why is the topic of pain management important to the dairy industry?

Consumers are interested in how their food is produced and they consider livestock producers to be the custodians of animal welfare. While dairymen do an outstanding job in taking care of the daily needs of the animals under their care, pain management on the farm in often overlooked. Many of the routine livestock management practices performed on dairy operations, such as dehorning and castration, are painful. In these instances, it is not unreasonable for consumers to expect that producers are taking proactive steps to minimizing pain and distress. Although there are several challenges associated with providing effective pain relief in livestock in the United States, these should not be an impediment to our industry meeting our moral and ethical obligations towards the animals in our care.

How can proper pain management make a difference within the greater dairy industry?

Aside from being an expectation that consumers have that producers will provide pain management at the time of painful procedures, this practices also reduces stress on the animal and the livestock caregiver. The use of local anesthesia at disbudding for example reduces aversive behavioral responses from the animal making them easier to handle. There is also evidence that pain management improves average daily weight gain in calves over 10 days after dehorning and may also reduce the incidence of bovine respiratory disease in older calves. Pain management can therefore represent a win-win for the animal, the producer and the industry at large.

Why should dairy producers care about pain management?

Routine management procedures such as dehorning and castration are painful. As the custodians of animal welfare, producers have a moral and ethical obligation to reduce or prevent pain in the animals under their care. Pain management also reduces animal distress and also facilitates the safe handling of animals during the time of the procedure.  Research has also shown that animals that receive analgesia have improved average daily weight gain and reduced incidence of disease.

Why is proper training in pain management important for dairy operations to implement?

Currently there are no drugs specifically approved by FDA for pain management. As a result, pain management constitutes extra-label drug use. Under Federal law, extra-label drug use is legal provided this occurs under the direction and supervision of a veterinarian. Dairy producers are therefore encouraged to develop pain management protocols with their veterinarian. Caregivers should also be trained on the correct method for administering a local anesthetic drug and have knowledge of the meat and milk withhold periods of the drugs involved.

What do you feel is the most important factor that leads to sound pain management practices on dairy farms?

Education. This is education in the recognition of pain in animals, the techniques for providing pain management and the prudent use of pharmaceutical compounds to alleviate pain in animals.

What is the most common mistake dairy producers/employees make related to pain management?

They fail to recognize routine management practices as being painful and they fail consult with their veterinarian to develop pain management protocols.

How will FARM help industry stakeholders raise the bar for pain management?

Increase awareness of procedures that are painful and proactive steps that producers can take to alleviate pain in animals.

This webinar is part the of the Merck Dairy C.A.R.E & FARM Animal Care Webinar series. You can view the FAQs and full schedule here.

WEBINAR PREVIEW: Cattle Marketing

January 12, 2017 | 12:00 pm EST | Watch Here


Marketing a dairy animal as beef is an important part of dairy farming and transitioning a cow to the beef sector at the right time is important. Lowell Midla, MS, VMD, Merck Animal Health veterinary technical services manager, will share guidelines on when to market, fitness for transport, observing withdrawal periods and proper protocols for selling and transporting as specified under FARM 3.0.


Lowell Midla, MS, VMD

Dairy Technical Services Manager

Merck Animal Health

Dr. Lowell Midla received his Bachelor’s degree from the University of Pennsylvania in 1988 and his V.M.D. (Doctor of Veterinary Medicine), also from Pennsylvania, in 1992.

Following graduation, Dr. Midla joined a mixed animal practice in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania.  In 1994, he moved on to The Ohio State University where he completed a food animal medicine and surgery residency and simultaneously earned a Master’s degree.  His Master’s degree research focused on laminitis and lameness in dairy cattle.  In 1996, Dr. Midla and his wife Joanne established a veterinary practice near Marianna, Pennsylvania.  In the fall of 2001, he joined the faculty of The Ohio State University, practicing and teaching at the large animal ambulatory service in Marysville, Ohio.  In 2016, he joined the cattle technical services team at Merck Animal Health.

Dr. Midla was appointed by the American Association of Bovine Practitioners to serve on the Council for Agricultural Science and Technology Board of Representatives – from which he was elected to serve as CAST president in 2013. Dr. Bolton practiced dairy veterinary medicine privately for 28 years in both Wisconsin and Michigan before joining Merck Animal Health in 2006.


Why is the topic of cattle marketing important to the dairy industry? / Why should dairy producers care about marketing their cattle?

Reason 1: Proper cattle marketing is the right thing to do.

Reason 2: Consumers give dairy farmers the social license to operate.  Public perception of the entire dairy industry, including how we market dairy animals, influences the willingness of consumers to continue to grant this license.  Thus, proper marketing of dairy animals is critical to maintaining our license to operate.

Reason 3: See Reason 1.

What is the most common mistake that dairy producers make when marketing cattle? / What do you feel is the most important factor that leads to great dairy cattle marketing?

The most common mistake that dairy producers make when marketing cattle is to think that their responsibility ends when the animal steps on the truck to leave the farm.  Instead, dairy producers should think more circumspectly.  That is, the dairy producer should think about the animal in question from the time it leaves the farm to the time it enters the food chain and then do what is within their power to ensure that a wholesome product will enter the food chain.

What role does the FARM Animal Care Program play in cattle marketing?

The FARM Animal Care Program outlines excellent guidelines for cattle marketing.  Producers who follow the guidelines to the letter can say that they are doing well.  Producers who not only follow the guidelines to the letter, but also embrace the spirit of the guidelines can say that they are doing the right thing for consumers, for the cows, for the dairy industry, and for themselves.

This webinar is part the of the Merck Dairy C.A.R.E & FARM Animal Care Webinar series. You can view the FAQs and full schedule here.