VEGA comments on the Food Standards Agency's proposals for inspections of dairying practices. Inspectors are advised on means of rapid escape enraged animals of any of the species on the farm, on two legs or four.
Re: Dairy Hygiene Inspectorate: Guide to Farm Inspections. Operating Procedures.
1. We congratulate compilers of the Guide for the comprehensiveness of the recommended procedures (including the advice on rapid getaways by inspectors in danger of onset by animals, human and non-human).
2. We have these particular points to make, which are common to consultations in which we have engaged with DEFRA and the FAWC.
2.1 Well-qualified inspectors must ensure that the handlers, stockpersons, owners, and custodians of the livestock can present evidence of training and licensing matters of hygiene and welfare. The training should include animal anatomy, mental capacities and behaviour, and there is a need for continuous, and flexible, training.
2.2 Grazing areas must be checked for good standards of husbandry. Feed bins and silage and other stored feeds must be checked for upkeep and provenance of contents and storage. Conditions for feeding and areas round mangers and drinking water troughs must pass muster. Pastures must be surveyed for litter, toxic plants, and signs of insect-borne infections and infestations, as well as rotational or common grazing with other species. Dung samples should be assessed.
2.3 Areas for loafing after milking need special attention. Space and pens for quarantining bought-in animals and appropriate “sick bays” for injured or ailing animals and for calving mist be examined and reported on.
2.4 Monitoring devices in premises e.g. for temperature, humidity, and pollutions (such as ammonia, hydrogen sulfide, and nitrogen oxides) must be checked and appraised.
2.5 Ramps and loading bays must be checked to provide smooth transfers of livestock to and from vehicles.
2.6 Premises in which non-farming visitors are entertained must be equipped with appropriate galleries and walkways and provided with suitable over-garments and headgear. Washing and toilet facilities for all staff and visitors must be inspected.
2.7 All records must be open for public inspection. Consideration should be given to awards of Hygiene Assessment Scores, in the manner of results of MHS inspections.
2.8 The operating procedures concentrate on production of bovine milks. Consistency must be maintained across all species yielding commercial supplies of colostrum and milk, i.e. sheep, goats, and buffalo/bison in the UK. Eruption of certain species- and genetically-linked diseases, such as BSE, must be appropriately anticipated.