INSTITUTO POLITÉCNICO DE SANTARÉM
ESCOLA SUPERIOR AGRÁRIA DE SANTARÉM
ANIMAL PRODUCTION ENGINEERING
LICENTIATE DEGREE COURSE
VACQA INTERNATIONAL WEBSITE
This study was fulfilled in spite of the
Project curriculary unit.
Name: David Nuno Palma Quintino
It is with great pleasure that I express my gratitude:
to University Professor João Cannas da Silva, for the magnanimous availability
for the development of this essay and for the opportunity given for the fulfillment
of this training post;
to Professor António Luiz Gomes, for the remarkable preparation and availability
to enhance this essay;
to Professor Maria Elisabete Palma, for the generous support to structure this
to Professor Maria Virginia Crespo and to the Work Placement Comission of
ESAS, for the evident preoccupation and for the approval of this traineeship;
to the whole ESAS teaching staff, for all my superior instruction;
to the whole “Charrua family” for all the brotherhood and for my integration in this
to my family, once without them the fulfillment of my course and this study would
not be possible;
and in special to my lady, Ana Lisboa, for all the love and support she gave me!
ABREVIATIONS / SYMBOLS
BSE Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy
ESAS Escola Superior Agrária de Santarém (Santarém Superior School
HACCP Hazard Analysis Critical Control Points
CCP Critical Control Point
POPA Point Of Particular Attention
SWOT Strengths Weaknesses Opportunities and Threats
VACQA Veterinary Advice and Coaching in Quality Assurance
VTEC Verotoxin-producing Escherichia coli
The implementation of a HACCP-like quality risk management program in dairy
farms, will improve the quality and quantity of production. To ease this
implementation, VACQA – International organization offers its clients SWOT
analysis for many zootechnic matters. These SWOT analyses are used to detect
strengths and weaknesses on these matters and this way it offers information for
what should be changed in the farm, making it easier for the farm owners and
Part of this training post consisted in making these SWOT analyses on eight
dairy farms. To fill out the field sheets, it was necessary: to perform an inspection
of the animals, the infrastructures, the feed and the handling; to check records
and laboratorial analysis of the feed, the water, the milk and the animals blood (if
existent); and to inquire the farm manager about the handling.
For this essay the ESAS dairy farm in Portugal, in the Ribatejo e Oeste region,
was selected to demonstrate the efficiency of the VACQA – International SWOT
analysis to detect strong points and weak points and establish priorities in the
The results in the end demonstrated to be very efficient, quickly detecting the
aspects to improve.
Keywords: dairy cattle farm, cattle, haccp, management, risk, swot
1 - INTRODUCTION & GOALS
Animal production has long been seen by a major part of the population as a
basic area, with out much knowledge involved and with a complicated future. But,
with the continuous advancement of science and market demand, it is each day
less alike. There is continuously more knowledge about animals, techniques and
detail for a greater and better production and the implementation of a HACCP-
based quality risk management program will organize all this knowledge,
avoiding these risks (instead of correcting them), and will maximize production
and, consequentially, the farm profit. The HACCP model is based in seven
1. prepare a list of steps in the production process at which targeted hazards
2. identify the critical control points, CCP, and the points of particular
attention, POPA, in the production process required to reduce or eliminate
3. establish critical limits for triggering the implementation of
corrective/preventive measures associated with each CCP and POPA
4. establish monitoring requirements for CCP and POPA. Use the results of
the monitoring program to ajust the procedures and maintain control of the
production process and for herd performance assessment;
5. determine corrective measures, to take when monitoring indicates that a
value falls outside established critical limits or beyond a given target;
6. establish effective record-keeping procedures that document that the
HACCP program has been implemented and is operational;
7. establish procedures to verify that the HACCP program is working
correctly. (NOORDHUIZEN, 2006)
To satisfy the first four principles the VACQA International organization created
many SWOT analyses for dairy farms.
The ideology of SWOT analysis has been used for more than two thousand
years: “Concentrate on the strong points, recognize your weaknesses, grab the
opportunities and protect yourself from the threats” (SUN TZU, 500 b.C.; quoted
by TARAPANOFF, 2001).
VACQA International is an organization based in different countries in Europe,
which aims at veterinary advice and coaching in quality assurance on dairy
For this study the ESAS (Santarém Superior School of Agriculture) dairy farm, in
the Ribatejo e Oeste region in Portugal, was selected to demonstrate the efficacy
of the VACQA International SWOT analysis’ on detecting strong points and weak
points to establish priorities in the farm management.
Quality Risks Better Quality
MORE PROFIT More Milk
Image 1: Logical result diagram of HACCP-like program implementation on dairy farms
2 - BILIOGRAPHICAL REVISION
In the last decades dairy farming has been more and more intensified. (BRAND
et al., 1996; BAUMGARNER, 2002; quoted by CANNAS DA SILVA et al., 2006
a). Consequentially there is need of more man-power, more feed, more
equipment and material (BONNIER et al., 2004), so, dairy farm profits have been
falling. For this reason it is necessary to have, instead of an individual approach
(diagnosing and treating animals individually), an approach at farm level (BRAND
et al., 1996; BAUMGARNER, 2002; quoted by CANNAS DA SILVA et al., 2006
a), since a sick animal can be an indicator of a problem at that same level.
There must be a continuous and regular animal or group performance
monitoring, in order to detect (imminent) pathological problems and/or production
problems in an initial stage and, considering the farm conditions, detect possible
animal environment risk factors that may contribute to the disease occurrence. In
this monitorization many zootechnical aspects should be considered, like
nutrition, climatization, housing, equipment, milking and milking machine,
hygiene and disinfection. Also part of this monitorization is the verification of
available information: production records, milk quality data, laboratorial records,
disease records and fertility records (CANNAS DA SILVA et al., 2006 a).
Inevitably, this monitorization, apart of preventing farm level problems, will also
insure the farm quality. Farm quality nowadays is of great importance, because in
the last years the media have been ostensibly exposing food safety failures, like
BSE, VTEC (LIEVAART et al., 2005), salmonelosis and listeriosis, particularly in
developed countries (CANNAS DA SILVA et al., 2008).
In order to fulfill the requirements of this new approach, based on record tracking
and continuous monitoring (CANNAS DA SILVA et al., 2006 a), it is
recommended to implement a method based on the HACCP model, since it is
considered to be a preventive and science-based systematic method, whose first
priority is the safety of the products through risk identification and risk
management in the production process, having a proactive, rather than reactive,
approach avoiding the problems instead of fixing them (CANNAS DA SILVA et
al., 2008). One of the stages of the HACCP model is carrying out SWOT analysis
(CANNAS DA SILVA et al., 2006 a).
The SWOT analysis consists in a tool for scenario (or environment) analysis that
is used as a business management and strategic business planning, but due to
its simplicity it can be used for any kind of scenario analysis (TARAPANOFF,
2001). This way, we can use SWOT-assessments to effectively identify the farm
strong points and weak points and from there, to set up a protocol to improve
these weak points (CANNAS DA SILVA et al., 2006 a). The VACQA International
website, disposes of some SWOT-assessments developed for dairy cattle,
namely related to claw health, udder health, milk production and nutrition, herd
fertility, calves, bovine welfare and cow comfort, and, public health and food
safety. Based on the outcomes of the SWOT-assessment, priorities for action on
the shorter and the longer term can be identified, and corrective and preventive
measures developed. These SWOT-assessment sheets can also be used to
detect trends, for example after advice has been given, in order to determine
whether progress has been made over time (CANNAS DA SILVA et al., 2006 b).
3 - MATERIAL AND METHODS
3.1 - Analyzed farm location
In this traineeship, quality risk assessments were carried out at eight dairy farms
in the Ribatejo e Oeste region in Portugal. This region assumes a distinguished
part in the Portuguese agriculture panorama for its production systems diversity,
for the quantity and quality of its agro-products, for its dynamic farmers and
simultaneously for its profits and for the level of competition between them
(TRINDADE, 2006, quoted by PARDAL, 2006). The selected dairy farm for this
essay was the RZ9A4 farm from ESAS (39°14'56'' N; 8°41'51'' W).
3.2 - VACQA – International Website
The VACQA International SWOT assessments (available online at www.vacqa-
international.com in six languages), developed by J. P. T. M. Noordhuizen, J.
Cannas da Silva, J. S. C. Boersema e A. Vieira, were used to detect strong
points and weak points in dairy farms. VACQA International supplies it is
customers with SWOT assessments for the following domains: Claw Health,
Udder Health, Milk Production and Nutrition, Fertility, Calves, Bovine Welfare and
Cow Comfort, and Public Health and Food Safety.
These assessments involve three tasks:
animal, housing, feed and handling inspection;
record, feed, water, milk and blood laboratory results check up;
and an inquiry to the farmer/person in charge of the handling.
Each one of the SWOT assessments is detailed and divided in many fields,
according to the nature of each analysis.
3.2.1 - Claw Health SWOT assessment
This SWOT assessment is found divided in: general information; clinical
monitoring; claw lesion diagnosis, housing, climate, feed and feeding;
management; and other health issues.
3.2.2 - Udder Health SWOT assessment
This SWOT assessment is found divided in: general information; clinical
monitoring; hygiene at & around milking; milking equipment; milking procedures;
housing; climate (barn & milking parlor); mastitis management; veterinary udder
health control; and other management issues.
3.2.3 - Milk Production & Nutrition SWOT assessment
This SWOT assessment is found divided in: general information; milk production
data; nutrition general items; nutrition feed quality assessment; nutrition ration
evaluation & formulation; grassland exploitation & grazing; clinical inspection;
health & reproduction inspection; and other additional observations.
3.2.4 - Fertility SWOT assessment
This SWOT assessment is found divided in: general information; farm
management; fertility records; herd level fertility problems; fertility problems
related to herd and farm factors; fertility problems related to animal factors;
artificial insemination/natural breeding; veterinary clinical inspection; and herd
specific problems related to calving season.
3.2.5 - Calves SWOT assessment
This SWOT assessment is found divided in: general information; housing;
climate; general hygiene & feeding management; general feeding procedures
young calves; health prevalence/incidence; growth/feeding; colostrums
management; milk replacer feeding or automatic feeding systems; heifer comfort
management; insemination management; and birth history & calving
3.2.6 - Bovine Welfare & Cow Comfort SWOT assessment
This SWOT assessment is found divided in: general information; health & health
management; behavioral aspects; housing, equipment & climate; feed & feeding
management; and management issues.
3.2.7 - Public Health & Food Safety
This SWOT assessment is found divided in: general information; sampling for
disease detection; biosecurity including general hygiene issues; udder health,
milking & milking hygiene; milk quality; and management.
3.3 - Field Sheets
To make data introduction on the website easier, there are field sheets in English
available for the Claw Health, Udder Health, Milk Production & Nutrition, Fertility
and Calves SWOT assessments. The reformulation (according to the three tasks
named in 3.2) and the translation of these field sheets, and also the creation of
the Bovine Welfare & Cow Comfort, and Public Health and Food Safety SWOT
assessment field sheets was also part of this traineeship.
Image 2: First page of the Bovine Welfare & Cow Comfort SWOT analysis field sheets.
3.4 - Data Introduction
After filling up the field sheets, the collected data can then be introduced in the
VACQA International website. In the website there is a scoring system from 1
(best) to 5 (worst), that is adapted to each of the parameters. If not sure about
the data to insert, the user can place the mouse pointer over the scoring slot to
open the parameter help window. Once inserted, the online software calculates
the average score and presents graphically each of the assessment domains and
a total score of the farm, and it also displays the CCP and POPA detected.
Image 3: VACQA International website SWOT analysis data introduction page.
4 - RESULTS
The SWOT assessments carried on at the ESAS farm, before the translation and
reformulation of the field sheets, took about seven hours to execute excluding the
introduction of the data on the website. After some practice, the translation and
the reformulation of the field sheets, these assessments took about three hours
to execute, revealing a lot of efficiency.
The introduction of the data on the VACQA International website took about
ninety minutes, displaying immediately the detailed results of the assessments
(Strong Points, Weak Points, CCP and POPA).
Image 4: VACQA International SWOT analysis results page.
5 - DISCUSSION
The results demonstrated the efficiency of the VACQA International SWOT
assessments, since that in little time they identified the farms strong points, weak
points, PCC and POPA.
6 - FINAL CONSIDERATIONS
It is important to notice that these assessments, to be well effectuated, require
some practice (notion of other farms, for comparison) and zootechnic knowledge
in many domains. Namely it is necessary to know how to evaluate body
condition, rumen fill, faeces consistency, undigested faeces fraction, locomotion,
bedding material quality, animal and infrastructure hygiene and knowledge about
dairy cattle handling.
The fertility SWOT assessment could not be finished dew to a lack of
organization and coherence of the existent data on the farm computer.
In a near future, new SWOT assessments will be made to the farm for relative
scoring with other farms.