Effect of Dairy Beef Quality Assurance Training on Dairy Worker Knowledge and Welfare-Related Practices.


A study was conducted to determine whether on-farm dairy beef quality assurance (BQA) training affected dairy worker knowledge of BQA and welfare-related practices. Dairy personnel who participated in the BQA training were administered an exam before and after the training to gauge the amount of knowledge gained. The average exam score was 21.0 points higher after the training, increasing from 54.4 to 75.4. Improvement in dairy worker knowledge suggests that BQA training programs have the potential to positively influence the dairy industry through the education of dairy owners and workers on BQA and welfare-related practices. Introduction Unlike most sectors of animal agriculture, the dairy industry is responsible for providing two valuable food products: dairy and beef. Although the primary purpose of a dairy cow is to produce milk, at the end of its productive life, it will be culled from the herd and enter the beef supply. Over 3 million dairy cows were slaughtered in the United States during 2013, representing 9.8% of all cattle slaughtered that year (U.S. Department of Agriculture, National Agricultural Statistics Service, 2014), illustrating the importance of this class of cattle to the beef supply. Despite this importance, beef quality assurance (BQA) practices are lacking on many dairy operations. Historically, market dairy cows have had more BQA defects than market beef cows, with more injection site lesions (Roeber et al., 2002), greater incidence of lameness (National Cattlemen’s Beef Association, 2007), and greater incidence of underweight (Ahola et al., 2011). The main goal of a dairy BQA program is to ensure that beef from dairy cows meets the quality and safety expectations of consumers (National Dairy Herd Information Association, 2009). In addition, a dairy BQA program emphasizes proper handling and management, promoting dairy cow welfare. The early identification and marketing of cull cows ensures that dairy cattle are culled in a timely manner, prior to compromising their welfare, and maximizes profits for dairy producers by ensuring that animals with fewer defects are sent Ashley E. Adams Assistant Professor Agricultural Science, Business, and Dairy Department Morrisville State College Morrisville, New York adamsae@morrisville. edu Jason K. Ahola Associate Professor, Beef Production Systems Department of Animal Sciences Colorado State University Fort Collins, Colorado jason.ahola@colostate .edu Mireille Chahine Associate Professor, Extension Dairy Specialist Department of Animal and Veterinary Sciences University of Idaho Twin Falls, Idaho mchahine@uidaho.edu I. Noa RomanMuniz Associate Professor, Extension Dairy Specialist Department of Animal Sciences Colorado State University Fort Collins, Colorado noa.romanmuniz@colostate.edu to market. Many other practices affect both BQA and dairy cow welfare. For example, administering all injections according to BQA guidelines not only preserves the higher quality, higher value meat in the hindquarters of an animal but also results in injections being given in neck muscle, which has been found to heal faster than rump muscle (Li, Yin, Wang, & Miao, 2012). Historically, providing on-farm training programs has been an excellent way of educating dairy producers and employees on various components of dairy operations, such as milking and calving management (Dalton & Jensen, 2006; Garry, Roman-Muniz, Lombard, & Van Metre, 2007). For training to be effective, though, it is important that the programs be conducted in the native language of those attending, which for many U.S. dairy employees is Spanish. A milker training program developed by the University of Idaho Extension team was conducted in Spanish and proved to be quite beneficial in improving worker knowledge of milking management (Dalton & Jensen, 2006). Similar training programs focusing on other aspects of dairy operations are likely to be met with success as well. Objective The objective of the preliminary study discussed in this article was to determine whether on-farm dairy BQA training has an effect on dairy worker knowledge of BQA and welfare-related practices. Methods The findings reported here are from a larger collaborative study by Colorado State University and University of Idaho researchers on the effects of on-farm BQA training on health and welfare of dairy cows (Adams, Ahola, Chahine, Ohlheiser, & Roman-Muniz, 2015). In each state (Colorado and Idaho), the operators of six conventional dairies chosen on the basis of size agreed to participate in the study. Of the six dairies in each state, two dairies represented each of the following size categories: small (1 to 199 cows), medium (200 to 1,499 cows), and large (1,500 cows or more). In each state, workers at one dairy from each size category received BQA training while workers at the other dairy in the same size category did not receive training. Results presented here represent the six dairies—three in each state—at which workers received the BQA training. Training sessions on each dairy were facilitated by university Extension personnel using Spanish-language materials and included a PowerPoint presentation, a video, and printed information. Training sessions lasted approximately 60 min and addressed the following materials and information: the Idaho dairy BQA manual, Spanish version (Idaho BQA, 2008); Prevention and Management of Non-ambulatory Dairy Cows video, Spanish version (Western Dairy Association, 2010); Guidelines for Responsible Antibiotic Use poster, Spanish version (Minnesota Beef Council, 2013); Beef Quality Assurance for Dairy and Beef Farmers poster, Spanish version (Minnesota Beef Council, 2013); and a dairy BQA PowerPoint presentation in Spanish covering the topics of Research in Brief Effect of Dairy Beef Quality Assurance Training on Dairy Worker Knowledge and Welfare-Related Practices JOE 54(5) © 2016 Extension Journal Inc 1 identifying lame cows through use of the 5-point locomotion scoring system (Sprecher, Hostetler, & Kaneene, 1997), scoring body condition of dairy cows (Ferguson, Galligan, & Thomsen, 1994), handling of dairy cows, and proper injection techniques. A total of 28 dairy personnel participated in the training sessions. All participants were administered an exam immediately prior to and immediately following the training to determine the amount of knowledge gained during the training (Figure 1). Figure 1. Exam Instrument for Dairy Personnel Who Received Training in Beef Quality Assurance (BQA), Administered Both Before and After Training1 Question Possible Answers 1. Which of the following can the dairy beef quality assurance (BQA) program affect? a. animal health* b. dairy farm profitability* c. animal well-being* d. milk and beef quality* 2.