February 26, 2003
Milk quality Web site trains American dairy employees
WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. A new Web site could help dairy farmers across the country decrease the amount of time spent training employees while increasing milk quality.
Most milk producers lack the teaching tools, time and the communication skills necessary to make sure their employees know exactly why they need to follow specific operating procedures. Purdue University's Department of Animal Sciences took on that challenge and designed an interactive Web-based training tool to help employees learn how to protect milk quality.
"The first goal of the Milking for Quality Web site is to provide those interested in improving milk quality the opportunity to learn about all that's involved in producing quality milk," said Mike Schutz, associate professor of animal science. "Secondly, it's for milkers to develop an understanding of why milk quality is so important and why the milking procedures that they are asked to follow are so critical.
"While we make recommendations, the focus is on the why, not the what. Every dairy farm requires slightly different milking procedures, so we focus on why employees are asked to follow a certain routine. Employees are more likely to follow procedures if they understand why they are important."
The Milking for Quality site includes pictures, graphics and animations, interactive media, and short movies.
"What makes it unique is that it is the most comprehensive and interactive milk quality training tool that is available on the Internet," Schutz said. "With the graphics and the formatting, it is a very friendly site."
Phil Reid, distance-learning coordinator, said the site consists of approximately 200 pages. "One of the neat things about this site is that you're not just taught how to do something, but you're taught why you're doing it," Reid said.
The information is divided into five sections:
The Cow: Everything from Anatomy to Behavior.
Milking Procedures and Hygiene.
Milking Equipment, Sanitation and Product Selection.
Mastitis Prevention and Treatment.
The Handling and Quality Control of Milk.
"It covers milking procedures and practices, such as predipping, forestripping, milk machine application, milk machine function and postdipping," Schutz said. "It also covers mastitis management in terms of various treatments for the different types of mastitis and recognizing its symptoms."
Schutz said the site also could help milk producers earn greater profits.
"Since the adaptation of milking machines, milk quality issues have come to the forefront," Schutz said. "The profitability depends more and more on achieving milk quality premiums for milk from healthy cows, and I think that anyone can benefit from the details of reaching those quality premiums."
Reid said the site also is an excellent review for producers. He said a Spanish language version of the site may be released this spring.
In addition to the benefits the site provides for full-time employees, it also could serve as a training program for high school and college students who would like to become relief milkers, Schutz said.
The site also will include regular news updates, notices of dairy meetings hosted by Purdue, notices of other educational opportunities and links to milk quality sites all over the country.
For a $10 fee milkers can take the Web site's tests and become certified milkers. Those who want to take the certification tests will have to dial a toll-free number provided on the site to arrange payment and get a password to access the tests.
Writer: Barney T. Haney, (765) 494-8402, firstname.lastname@example.org
Sources: Mike Schutz, (765) 494-9478, email@example.com
Phil Reid, (765) 496-7370, firstname.lastname@example.org
Ag Communications: (765) 494-2722; Beth Forbes, email@example.com; http://www.agriculture.purdue.edu/AgComm/public/agnews/
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