Three Ways To Train Feeders

Tailor teaching to their learning style. ( Farm Journal Media )

In previous articles, I've discussed World Class Feed Management Goals and a feedbunk management scorecard, which are useful tools and metrics when working to develop your feeder and feed team. However, developing people is an art in its own right, and understanding how someone ticks - how they learn, engage and retain information - is a critical component in making sure the message gets adequately communicated and retained. 

Before jumping in and working with a feeder to develop his or her skills in an area, consider first what their dominant learning style might be, and tailor your program accordingly. People generally learn in three different ways. While an individual might learn using all three methods, they often have one or maybe two learning styles that predominate. 

  1. Auditory Learners primarily retain information through listening and use hearing and speaking as a main learning tool. Create a dialogue with them to help them brainstorm and communicate back and forth to better formulate an understanding. Use repetition to cement the idea firmly within this learner. An adage to abide by—“tell them what they will learn, then teach them, then tell them what they learned.”
  2. Visual Learners tend to better remember what is written down, discussed or viewed. Consider using graphs, illustrations, visual aids, videos and handouts when training an individual that ascribes to the visual learning style. They might take notes or draw pictures to better understand information.
  3. Kinesthetic Learners like to touch, move around and be involved with whatever they are learning. Without movement, involvement or activity, they might lose interest and retention of information becomes difficult. Watching lectures might be more difficult, yet involvement in the process or task you are trying to teach is the key way to get a kinesthetic learner to grasp new information.

Understanding the learning style of your feeder is critical to being able to appropriately teach them. As you might have already guessed, due to the physical and active nature of their jobs, many, yet not all, feeders might be kinesthetic learners. The pictures show some examples of how to teach feeders who learn differently. Use these tips to enhance the likelihood of success when training the feeders on your dairy.

To read Bender’s article about the feedbunk scorecard, visit


Robb Bender is a consultant with GPS Consulting, providing independent whole-farm management consulting to dairies in Wisconsin and the upper Midwest. 

Note: This article appears in the July 2018 issue of Dairy Herd Management.