Bilingual Calf Care Workshop Builds Knowledge and Skill Level of Dairy Herdspersons

Chris Mondak , Dairy Field Specialist, Northwest

Problem Statement:  
As the cost of replacement dairy heifers increases ($2,000+, up from previous $1,100), obtaining live births and keeping newborn calves alive and healthy is increasingly important. Recent research indicates that how a calf is managed in its first hours of life, and how it is fed in early life impact the long-term productivity of that dairy animal (Tyler 2005, Drackley 2005).  As herd size increases, dairy owners rely on hired herdspersons to perform the tasks of maternity pen monitoring, calving assistance, colostrums administration, and newborn calf care.  Dairy owners have requested training sessions to help all hired employees both English speaking and Spanish-speaking, understand the importance and methods of consistent, correct job task performance in these critical areas.
Programmatic Response:     
ISU Extension collaborated with Agri-Education, PDHGA, and Midlands Bioproducts to present a Bilingual Calf Care Workshop in NW Iowa in Sept 2005 for dairy herdspersons and dairy owners. The program featured Howard Tyler, ISU Dairy Science professor, who conducted a classroom style session about maternity pen monitoring, correct ways to assist a calf delivery, and correct colostrum handling & administration. Richard Harrington, Midlands Bioproducts, conducted a hands-on learning session to demonstrate the use of on-farm colostrums quality test kits. After lunch, all participants and instructors traveled to a nearby dairy farm for demonstrations and hands-on practice sessions on correct ways to tube feed, draw blood samples for IgG testing, and assess hydration status of calves. 
All sessions were conducted in English, with simultaneous translation into Spanish by two bilingual herdsmen who assisted the instructors.
Twenty herdspersons attended the workshop 7 women and 13 men. Thirteen participants were Hispanic, and had varying levels of English speaking and comprehension skills. The small group format for both the classroom and on-farm sessions allowed for good discussion, question-answer exchanges, and hands-on practice for participants enrolled.
Ten weeks post-workshop, the dairy owners whose herdspersons attended the September workshop were interviewed to assess the impact of the training. The dairy owners reported these changes in their herdspersons attitudes or job performances:

Additionally, all dairy owners interviewed commented that they were pleased the workshop emphasized WHY certain tasks and procedures were important; some felt this resulted in their employees having more confidence and willingness to perform required job tasks according to protocols.

March 31, 2006
109 - Dairy

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