Nutrition: Teach your feeder

September 3, 2010 08:24 AM

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More on employee training

Spanish translation

The link between the ration on paper and the ration delivered to the cows is the person mixing the feed. So it makes sense to involve your nutrition consultant in the training and education of that person.

“Training” refers to following specific protocols. “Education” involves the reasons for establishing those protocols. Both are important in helping the feeder understand what can happen when shortcuts are taken. Following are some basics that feeding personnel should know:

  • Dry-matter determination. Whether or not the people doing the mixing and feeding are responsible for it, train them in the procedure for determining dry matter with a Koster tester or microwave. If they understand the importance of knowing the correct amount of dry matter and that rations are balanced on a dry-matter basis, they can identify feeding errors due to dry-matter errors.


  • Mixing procedures. Teach the proper order of ingredient mixing, mixing time and weighing procedures. A shaker box is an excellent tool for demonstrating results.


  • Bunk management. Review the operation’s feed delivery procedures frequently. Emphasize the consequences of poor bunk management—sorting, moldy feed, sick cows—so employees understand the importance of this job. Feeders should know how to read bunks correctly to determine if adjustments need to be made.


  • Silo management. The implications of moldy silage are another essential topic. Feeders must know how to minimize mold growth with proper face management and taught to discard questionable silage. Also address safety issues related to excavating the silage face.
  • Ingredient quality control. Feeding personnel may be the first to see feed ingredient deliveries. They can be a great help with quality control by pointing out questionable ingredients. Train feeders to utilize a first-in, first-out rotation of ingredients and to clean out feed bays before adding new ingredients.

Maximizing job performance, training and education of Mexican labor requires someone who is not only bilingual, but who also understands cultural differences. Cultural barriers often lead to errors in communication. A bilingual employee can help the nutritionist communicate the procedures and objectives of the program correctly.

Being treated with respect, having interesting work and being recognized for doing good work are among the aspects that good employees consider to be most important in a job. Ironically, money is rarely at the top of the list within job categories.

This makes proper training and education even more important to overall job satisfaction and performance. Training and education should be a continuous process, not a crash course when employees are hired. This is where the nutrition consultant can help maximize the success of his or her program.

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