Mentoring milkers while bridging the language barrier


  • Ashley J. Swan Team Management Concepts, Plainwell, MI 49080



dairy workforce, employee training


The dairy industry is increasingly reliant on hired employees, much of which is represented by immigrant labor. Thus, there is a growing need for training and education of dairy employees as there is often a lack of previous dairy experience, and employee turnover rates are problematic on many farms. This is especially the case for tasks related to milk quality, i.e., milking, moving cows, housing management, etc. Veterinarians are uniquely qualified to help bridge the gap between the labor needs of the dairy farm and the needs of employees so that they can better engage in the productivity of the farm.

This article will offer personal experiences from the perspective of a private practitioner, on how to develop and sustain an employee training model that not only includes ‘how to do things’, but ‘why they are important’. Cultural and language barriers may intimidate some practitioners from participating in employee training if the farm workforce includes Latino employees. However, these issues can be addressed and economic value for the farm and employee satisfaction can be attained.






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