The objectives of the present study were to assess (1) the effectiveness of a calving training workshop and an application (app) for touchscreen devices to capture calving-related events, and (2) personnel compliance with calving protocols (time from birth to feeding of first colostrum and time that cows spent in labor). Calving personnel (n = 23) from 5 large dairy farms (range: 800-10,000 cows) participated in the study. Participants received training through an on-farm workshop regarding calving management practices and functioning of the app before recording calving-related events. Pre- and posttest evaluations were administered to each participant to measure their knowledge gain and satisfaction with the workshop. Calving personnel recorded calving-related events (n = 323) using the app for 7 d following training. Furthermore, the records collected with the app were used to assess missing and incorrect data and calving personnel compliance with calving management protocols (recording time that cows spent in labor and timing of feeding first colostrum to calves). Calving personnel reported that the information provided during the training was relevant (agree = 14.3% and strongly agree = 85.7%) and of great immediate use (agree = 33.3% and strongly agree = 66.7%). The presented materials and hands-on demonstrations substantially increased the knowledge level of the attendees (by 23.7 percentage points from pre- to posttest scores). The follow-up assessment with participants revealed that the app was easy to use (91.3%) and that they would continue to use it (100%). Frequency of incorrect (r = 0.77) or missing (r = 0.76) data was positively correlated with calving:personnel ratio. Furthermore, calving personnel compliance with calving protocols was significantly different within and between herds. These results substantiated the great variation in compliance with calving management protocols within and between dairy farms. Furthermore, the app may serve as a tool to monitor personnel compliance with first feeding of colostrum to calves and their awareness and recognition of amount of time that each cow spent in labor. This would allow decision-makers to adjust, reassign tasks, or plan the management according to actual calving rate to improve the overall quality of data (frequency of incorrect and missing data) and calf welfare (survival and performance).
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Food Science
- Animal Science and Zoology