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PRODUCER Q&A Reet Sidhu,
Producer and Public Affairs Manager, BC Dairy Association
BC Dairy recently interviewed Joel Huizing from Country Charm Farms in Abbotsford to learn about his experience implementing the proAction Biosecurity pillar.
The Huizing family of Country Charm Farms. (L-R) Daniel (holding Emma), Mya, Kari, Diana, Chris, Amanda and Joel.
                       Could you tell us a little about the history of the farm and your family?
My grandparents, Bert and Tina Huizing, started Country Charm Farms in 1967. My dad Chris, and his brothers Phil and Howard took over in 1985. After 2008 I started taking on farm management roles as both my uncles had left to farm in Saskatchewan. In 2018 my younger brother Daniel also joined the farm.
What do you love about dairy farming?
I enjoy the variety of work, setting goals and working to achieve them.
How many cows do you milk on your farm and in what kind of a barn?
We milk 270 cows, in a six-row freestall drive through barn with sand bedding.
Do you have a closed herd?
Yes, we do have a closed herd.
What diseases are of particular concern on your farm?
Leukosis, Staph. aureus and calf scours are some diseases we are focusing on.
What has been your most successful treatment/action plan and results
you are the proudest of?
Our Leukosis program has been the longest running. This program involves buying a pasteurizer for calf milk, the single use of needles for injections along with testing and keeping track of Leukosis positive cows. We have reduced the BLV incidence rate in our herd from 16.7% in 2013 down to 6.2%. The program is on-going with the goal of complete eradication.
What has changed on your farm since the implementation of the biosecurity pillar in proAction?
We have setup boot dips for anyone entering the barns. There is now definitely more
awareness among farm staff for keeping things clean.
Aside from the specific diseases already mentioned, what are your primary biosecurity concerns for your family, staff, and other dairy industry representatives?
There can be organisms present on the farm that are transferable to humans.
What conversations have you had with your staff and frequent farm industry representatives to promote and protect biosecurity on your farm? We’ve asked employees to use dedicated boots and coveralls for the farm, as well as requesting off-farm visitors to come with clean clothes and footwear, and to utilize boot dips or plastic booties when required.
What area have you invested the most in to protect and promote biosecurity on your farm, outside of the specific diseases you mentioned? The calf barn and calf care have been our biggest priority. Building a new calf barn gave us a clean slate to design new protocols for how we raise calves.
What physical steps have you taken to promote biosecurity in this area?
We’ve integrated hoses and a wash grate by each door. Signs indicate to clean boots and to utilize a boot dip before entry. There is a focus on clean pens and feeding equipment for the calves as well as ample rest for pens in between calves. In addition, we’re currently using the Halagon product to combat any remnants of Cryptosporidium that might make its way into the new calf barn.
Any additional safety upgrades you’ve made to help from a biosecurity standpoint?
We have upgraded some of our equipment for washing calf bottles and nipples. We’ve also made the quality, quantity and timing of colostrum an ongoing priority on our farm.

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