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Evaluation of trainings provided to Central Texas dairy workers.

J. A. Garcia Buitrago



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Evaluation of trainings provided to Central Texas dairy workers.
J. A. Garcia Buitrago*1, G. R. Hagevoort1, J. Spencer2, J. Pineiro2. 1New Mexico State University, Agricultural Science Center at Clovis Clovis, NM, 2Texas A&M University, Texas AgriLife Extension College Station, TX.

A close relationship has been reported between the work performed by workers who have received training in animal handling, animal welfare, reduction of occupational risks and the increase in productivity of dairy farms. Cattle behavior toward people depends on instinctive actions, reactions to external stimuli and acquired conducts, their knowledge through training can help improve job performance. Between 2015 and 2018 New Mexico State University and Texas A&M University dairy extension specialists conducted animal handling trainings with dairy workers from Central Texas dairy farms with the goal to affect their animal handling skills. Three-hour training sessions conducted in both Spanish and English using audiovisual presentations were followed by live demonstrations with dairy cows. The training included 5 conceptual elements: how do cows perceive their surroundings, blind spots, flight zone, point of balance and moving animals. To determine the level of comprehension of the trainings, 104 participants were asked to answer 10 objective questions about the concepts of animal behavior and handling, in identical tests conducted before and after the training session. The tests were scored according to the number of correct answers, their means were compared using a t-test, and the effects of age, educational level, language and gender of participants and training year were analyzed using an ANOVA. The results show a statistical difference (P < 0.05) in the means of the tests before and after training. The average score was 2.49 points higher in the post-training test and varied between a range of 2.23 to 2.75 (90% confidence interval). No significant differences were found due to effects considered. Results showed an improvement in the understanding of the basic concepts of animal handling, regardless of the age, sex, language and educational level of the participants, and training year. Training in basic animal handling concepts could help improve the work quality, animal welfare and dairies productivity.

Keywords: animal handling, dairy, training.