The Holtermans offer animal handling training sessions at least quarterly, and have a small team trained specially to handle down cows. Employee training programs have included Merck Animal Health Dairy Care 365 videos, Tom Wall/Dairy Coach milker training videos, University of Wisconsin-Extension animal handling curriculum, NMPF’s F.A.R.M program, and other in-house programs.
For Sandy Stauffer, Nicholville, N.Y., animal welfare begins with the Stauffer Farms’ vision statement, posted in the milking parlor and employee break room, and given to each new person hired.
“Stauffer Farms LLC strives to honor God by producing safe, high quality, affordable milk in a way which is empowering and fulfilling to our families and employees, is sustainable to the environment, and is humane and comfortable for our animals.”
“We are constantly training and retraining employees in proper cow handling, including the handling of non-ambulatory animals,” said Stauffer, a F.A.R.M. and Dairylea/DFA Gold Standard program participant.
“Our veterinarian trains multiple employees in the practice of using nerve block when dehorning calves. We have stopped tail docking. We have an open sand-bedded area where cows having difficulty getting up have good traction and aren’t hindered by stalls. We have also purchased a float tank for rehabilitating injuries.”
“Our dairy is part of the Land O’Lakes’ F.A.R.M. Program,” explained Deb Reinhart, New Holstein, Wis. “We have hosted a training for field staff, and participated in two animal care assessments. These tools keep us focused. We work carefully with our veterinarian to achieve our Herd Health Plan goals. Each new employee receives training and is held accountable. Breech of protocol is cause for dismissal, and will not be tolerated.”
All owners and employees have signed “See It? Stop It!” agreements.
“I believe it is critical to tell the positive story about how dairy producers are passionate about the care of their animals, land, people and communities,” Reinhart said. “If we do not lead the conversation, our detractors will frame it for us.”