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WEBINAR PREVIEW: Dairy Stockmanship Skills

Sep 22, 2016

WEBINAR PREVIEW: Dairy Stockmanship Skills

September 29, 2016 | 12:00 pm EST | Watch Here

Calm, efficient and gentle animal-handling practices are the goal of every dairy farmer. This webinar, led by Ben Bartlett, D.V.M, former Michigan State University educator and livestock producer, will cover changes that are coming to FARM Program Version 3.0, including documentation of training for all employees with animal care responsibilities in stockmanship and other areas. He will offer guidance on the best practices around handling and moving cattle. Based on established principles of animal behavior, this webinar will address the efficient and humane handling of dairy cattle, flight zones and point of balance. Humane loading/unloading and transportation will also be covered.

Ben Bartlett, D.V.M.
Low Stress Handling & Grazing Specialist
Stocker Cattle and Commercial Sheep
Traunik, Michigan

During his 50 years of raising cattle, Ben Bartlett, D.V.M., has seen the challenges of putting the theories of animal handling into real life practice, and brings his hands-on experience to the art and science of low-stress cattle handling. For over 20 years, he has been teaching low-stress handling techniques with a special emphasis on “why” it will work and “why” it is so important to go along with the “how.” He has taught goat producers in the Virgin Islands, musk ox managers in Alaska, and many large and small cattle producers in between.

Dr. Bartlett received his veterinary and animal husbandry degrees from Michigan State University and retired from MSU as a Distinguished Extension Educator after 34 years of working with dairy and livestock producers.


Why is the topic of dairy stockmanship important to the dairy industry?
The knowledge and practice of good stockmanship or low stress cattle handling will make cattle handling both safer and more enjoyable for both workers and the cattle and critical today, re-new the public’s faith in current farming practices.

How can proper dairy stockmanship make a difference within the greater dairy industry?
Consumers are not willing to buy products they feel were not produced in an ethical manner.  Practicing proper stockmanship across the dairy industry is as important as producing a healthy and good tasting product. 

Why should dairy producers care about dairy stockmanship?
New research has demonstrated that low stress handing can both increase production and decrease injuries to both cattle and people.  Six months after staff training in low stress handling methods, one owner reported significantly less cattle injuries – “Low stress handling really works”. 

Why is proper training in dairy stockmanship important for dairy operations to implement?
Dairy farmers have two kinds of workers on their farms, the cattle and the people who take care of them.  Good stockmanship will decrease injuries and stress for both cattle and workers.  Less injuries and stress means increased productivity and decreased worker and cow turnover.

What do you feel is the most important factor that leads to sound dairy stockmanship on dairy farms?
Low stress handing has two parts; training and practice.  It is vital that all employees, managers, and owners be trained in low stress handling.  As with any skill, it takes practice to execute what was learned and to overcome the natural return to previous ways of doing things.  Both formal training and practice are important for the long-term practice of good stockmanship.

What is the most common mistake dairy producers/employees make when handling dairy animals?
It’s a tie between going too fast and not “listening” to the cows.  Slow is always the fastest way to get the job done.

How will FARM help the industry stakeholders raise the bar in dairy stockmanship?
The FARM program can serve two vital roles. It establishes standards for the practice of good stockmanship, increasing its credibility with the public. It also is the public face of good husbandry of the dairy industry to the consumer. 

This webinar is part the of the Merck Dairy C.A.R.E & FARM Animal Care Webinar series. You can view the FAQs and full schedule here.