So it does not come as a surprise that cattle handling techniques were almost as commonly part of employee training as the milking routine or parlor cleaning protocols on Minnesota dairy farms. Training was mostly done by herd owners or managers who had learned cattle handling predominantly from family members or by trial-and-error. However, in particular producers of larger farms (>200 milking cows) also had sought out low-stress handling training seminars to learn more about best cattle handling practices. An interesting finding of the survey was that those herds that had previous stockmanship training tended to have about 1,760 pounds higher rolling herd average than herds that did not – even after accounting for the herd size. Whether this difference in production was due to the stockmanship training, attitudes of producers towards their animals and/or employees, or the adoption of novel or best management practices cannot be answered with the available data. But one can safely conclude that good handling techniques are important for the well-being of both cows and people, and for the overall smooth operation of a dairy farm.
More information about stockmanship for dairy farms can be found here: http://www.cvm.umn.edu/dairy/research/Stockmanship/home.html.
1 Sorge, U.S., C. Cherry, and J.B. Bender. 2014. Perception of the importance of human-animal interactions on cattle flow and worker safety in Minnesota dairy farms. J. Dairy Sci. (In press).