Friday, January 29, 2016

Providing Consistent Quality Care: The Case for
Training Substitute Workers

Do you have one or more days when calf care is provided by persons other than the primary care givers? Nearly all of us have “substitute” workers. They fill in when the regulars have their day or shift off.

To what extent does calf care quality take a hit on these shifts? Are differences in milk replacer mixing introduced? How about volume of milk replacer fed – same volume as on regular shifts? Grain and water feeding is completed with same care as other days? Diagnosis of treatable scours or respiratory illness is as reliable as other days? Is the quality of supportive care for seriously ill calves remain high on these shifts?

First alternative: bitch, bitch, bitch

I talk to many folks that see compromised care on the “off” shifts. It is not nice to admit this but the most common response to lapses in calf care by substitute workers is to complain about them. “I told them to feed just enough grain so the calves would finish eating nearly all of it. What did I find on Monday morning? Every grain pail for the youngest calves was nearly full.”

Or, “I told them to watch for calves that were loose. They might need electrolytes in addition to the regular feedings. Half of the time when I come in the next day there are one or two calves that can barely get up due to dehydration.”

How about another alternative? Train, train, train

On one hand, there can be issues with motivation that lead to sub-standard performance. On the other hand, lack of quality calf care often is connected to lack of skills and/or knowledge. That is where training or even re-training fit in.

Four suggestions for effective training can be found HERE. Or if the link does not work you can go to www.atticacows.com, click on "Calving Ease Back Issues 2009-2010" - select Quality Calf Care August 2010 Calving Ease.

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