Yesterday I spent several hours observing, videoing, and visiting with the manager and employees of a 1500 cow dairy here in . . . . that has implemented your low-stress stockmanship practices. Back in March spent a couple of days teaching them what you taught me and the dairy adopted “zero-tolerance” policy for handling cows the “old way.” No more whistling, yelling, running, etc. Back then, the dairy was milking 1300 cows, three times a day, and struggling to get cows through the parlor. They also would have a couple cows every week that would fall down on the concrete or be injured as a result of mishandling. The working climate of the farm was described as “stressful.”
Over the last five months, the climate has changed from stressful to relaxed and enjoyable. Injuries and down cows have been virtually eliminated. The dairy is now putting 1500 cows through the barn, three times a day, with time to spare. Cows are now allowed to come into the parlor instead of being pushed. Milk production has increased and adverse health events have decreased. Additionally, employee turnover has stopped and employee satisfaction is through the roof. I interviewed the manager and an upper level employee separately and found their thoughts about their cows and how the farm has improved to be virtually identical. To have these people on the same page is a rarity on other facilities. They both agreed that it has taken a lot of hard work to get to where they are, and there is always more to improve, but the change has been worth it. The manager told me that the key was to have a couple of other higher level employees helping him at all times to keep everyone moving forward in this endeavor. These individuals both told me they would quit if they were forced to change back to the old ways. They love to see their cows so content and easy to work.
Thank you so much for sharing your knowledge. Using these methods and thought processes is something that makes us better stewards of our land and cattle, and at the same time makes us more profitable.