Merck Animal Health today introduced its newest training module in its Dairy Care365™ series. “Handling Dairy Calves and Heifers: A Low-Stress Way to a Profitable Herd” focuses on helping dairies create and maintain a low-stress animal handling approach, as well as a safe, positive environment for young animals. A low-stress approach is not only better and safer for the animal, but it also reduces the risk of injury to the handler.
Specifically, the new module will address training calves to move and adjust to new situations, knowing how to move, process and handle heifers safely and efficiently, and learning how to train fresh heifers to be milked.
“In addition to safety and animal well-being, using low-stress handling when working with youngstock positively impacts the performance of those animals,” said Mike Bolton, D.V.M., technical services manager for Merck Animal Health. “In fact, research results have shown the connection between handling stress and milk production. Heifers experiencing stress while entering the milking parlor produced three pounds less milk per day, lost 30 pounds more weight and experienced more lameness. Results also showed that dairy cattle’s fear of humans can result in a 30 to 50 percent difference in the level of milk production between herds.”
This module was developed in partnership with Ben Bartlett, D.V.M., well-known Michigan State University extension educator, who noted that this training is an ideal resource for dairies that are committed to making continuous improvement in their herds’ performance.
“For dairies to perform at their best, it’s vital to have a unified animal handling approach that is shared by owners, managers and workers, and is based on handling cattle safely, efficiently and in a low-stress manner,” Dr. Bartlett explained.
This training module presents the information in an easy-to-understand format that explains how to raise calves that respect people and respond to handler movement requests. It is available in English or Spanish and takes approximately 20 minutes to complete. At the end of the course, participants can take a short quiz to test their knowledge. Dairy managers also can use the results of the training to help identify areas for improvement.
Merck Animal Health developed Dairy Care365™ to train, equip and support dairy farmers and their employees so they’re able to provide the best possible care for dairy animals every day. The new module and previous Dairy Care365™ courses, including “Introduction to Dairy Stockmanship” and “Milk Parlor Handling,” are available by sending an email to info@DairyCare365.com.
Source: Merck Animal Health