Penn State Dairy Alliance is bringing its popular dairy production skills certificate program to BradfordCounty, Pa., this fall.

The Penn State Dairy Production Skills Certificate will be offered at Y Run Farm in Troy, Pa., BradfordCounty. The certificate program, launched last year in Lancaster County, features six two-day training modules on reproduction, herd health, calf and heifer care, general production, milking management and udder health, and feeding and nutrition.

The Penn State Dairy Production Skills Certificate is an introductory-level production training program designed for recent high school graduates, new dairy farm employees, or long-time employees and producers who want to update their knowledge of dairy production methods, skills, and technologies.

“The certificate program is very detailed. Whatever level you’re at on the farm – whether you’re a calf feeder or senior herd manager – you can gain something from the training modules to help you do your job better,” explained Nate Galbreath, senior herd manager and parlor manager at an 850-cow dairy in Lancaster County and a graduate of the program.   

The certificate’s emphasis on hands-on training makes it unique, according to Sandy Costello, workforce development specialist with Penn State Dairy Alliance. “Each training module features a classroom portion where the rationale behind various production tasks is stressed,” said Costello. “An equal amount of hands-on skills training with cows, heifers, or calves and equipment or tools is also provided so that students can practice what they’ve learned in a commercial dairy setting. At the end of each two-day production module, students are ready to put their new knowledge and skills into practice immediately.”

The certificate program is taught by a team of instructors who offer students a blend of real-world experience and cutting-edge dairy research. The team includes faculty and staff from PennState’s Department of Dairy and Animal Science, Department of Veterinary Science, and Department of Agricultural and Biological Engineering, as well as Penn State Cooperative Extension educators, and industry professionals.

“I’ve been to PennState programs, so I knew the training would be worthwhile,” said Jere Hissong, dairy focus consultant with Cargill Animal Nutrition, who encouraged an employee at one of the dairies he serves to attend the Feeding and Nutrition Module held last year. The employee was responsible for 95 percent of the feeding on a 500-cow dairy operation, yet had no formal training in feeding and nutrition. “He really needed skill development,” said Hissong, who reports he has seen a big difference in his client following the class. “He checks moisture levels on a regular basis and is tracking feed weights, refusals, and even milk weights daily. And he started keeping these records all on his own. His interest level has really increased since the class. He now realizes how important his job is to the success of the dairy.”

The following two-day modules will be offered from 9 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. each day in Bradford County: Reproduction Module, Nov. 15 and 22, 2005; Herd Health Module, Dec. 2 and 9, 2005; Calf and Heifer Module, Dec. 12 and 19, 2005; General Production Module, Jan. 4 and 11, 2006; Milking Management and Udder Health Module, Jan. 6 and 13, 2006; and Feeding and Nutrition Module, Feb. 3 and 10, 2006. The fee is $250 per module and includes breakfast break, lunch, afternoon break, and all program materials.

Participants may enroll in just one or two modules, based on their area of interest, or may complete the General Production Module and three other modules of their choice to receive the Penn State Dairy Production Skills Certificate.

In addition to general production skills, the General Production Module features a communications component to help employees effectively interact with fellow workers on a daily basis and at difficult times. Since completing the certificate program, Galbreath said he tries to focus on his co-workers as much as the cows. “If you can’t keep people happy, you can’t keep cows happy,” he observed.

Registration for all modules of the Penn State Dairy Production Skills Certificate is currently underway. For more information about each module, or to register online with a credit card, visit: Or, call 888-373-7232 for assistance. Class size is limited.

Dairy Alliance is a Penn State Cooperative Extension initiative.

Penn State Dairy Alliance