Effect of on-farm dairy Beef Quality Assurance (BQA) training on worker knowledge of BQA and welfare-related practices
A training program in Beef Quality Assurance (BQA) practices, which included BQA core components and guidelines, was developed for use on dairy farms. The objective was to determine if on-farm dairy BQA training has an effect on dairy worker knowledge of BQA and welfare-related practices. Twelve dairies in Colorado and Idaho (6 per state) participated in this pilot project, with 3 dairies in each state receiving BQA training. Training was provided to all employees (including owners and managers) on the dairies that received it, was conducted by experts in dairy BQA via Spanish-language materials, and was consistent across all dairies. In order to gauge knowledge of various BQA and welfare-related practices, dairy employees were administered a brief exam prior to receiving training, and again immediately after. Scores were compared between the pre- and post-exams using the TTEST procedure in SAS, with a significant improvement in overall test score occurring in both states (P< 0.0001). Respondents (n = 28) scored an average of 53.1 (out of 100) prior to receiving training, which improved to 76.0 after the training (mean improvement = 22.9). In addition to improvement in worker knowledge, one dairy added a full-time hoof trimmer to their staff after receiving the BQA training, indicating the training made them realize the importance of lame cow identification and management on dairy cow welfare and BQA. The change in producer perception of the importance of lameness on an operation, as well as improvement in dairy worker knowledge, suggests that BQA training programs have the potential of impacting dairy owner and/or employee behavior in a positive manner. Further research, including a larger sample size and follow-up visits to gauge employee knowledge retention, is needed to investigate the long-term effect of on-farm BQA training on dairy worker knowledge and management practices. A training program that benefits both BQA and welfare practices would be an excellent tool for the dairy industry, and would foster continuous improvement in these areas within the industry.
Keywords: beef quality assurance, dairy cows, training