New Mexico has the largest dairy herds in the United States, and also ranks first nationwide for milk production per cow, at more than 25,000 pounds per cow.
That makes the dairy industry a significant employer in New Mexico. Recognizing the need to keep that workforce safe, New Mexico State University Dairy Extension has developed a series of dairy safety training videos.
The video series “Considering Human and Animal Safety: Dairy Safety Training” was produced under the direction of Dairy Extension Specialist Robert Hagevoort to educate dairy farm workers on practices that will keep both the workers and the cows safe and healthy.
Produced in relatively short segments, the videos address a wide range of dairy safety topics, including tractor and machinery operation; milking; feeding; calf care; and general outdoor work situations.
“Our goal for this project was to inspire workers to perform tasks or follow safety protocols because they understand the importance of them, not just because they were told to do things a certain way,” Hagevoort recently told the audience of the Dairy Calf and Heifer Association annual conference.
Key to the success of the effort was translating the videos in native languages. In addition to English, they are available in Spanish and K’iche, which is the native language of the Mayan populace of Central American.
Hagevoort said his team’s delivery strategy for the videos has evolved since their inception. Recognizing the limitations of a traditional classroom setting in which a “group think” mentality can dominate, they eventually arrived at the idea of playing the videos on individual I-Pads. Each user has an I-Pad and headphones, and the training is highly individualized.
“At first we were afraid some older workers would be intimidated by working with the I-Pads, but that has not been the case at all,” shared Hagevoort. “This delivery method has been wildly successful. Most people enjoy the independence and sense of purpose instilled by such specific training.”
After completion of the training, workers receive certificates of recognition, which also helps underscore the importance of the training, while bolstering the self-confidence of the trainees.
The video series was produced by the Southern Great Plains Dairy Consortium in partnership with New Mexico State University Cooperative Extension, New Mexico State University Dairy Extension, the Southwest Center for Agricultural Health, Injury Prevention, and Education; USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA), and the High Plains Intermountain Center for Agricultural Health and Safety (HICAHS).