Temperatures Drop and Snow Flies:
Consider Dairy Workforce Winter udder health reminders, minimizing calf stress this winter, and tips for protecting our herd from ‘old man winter’ are often popular topics in dairy media during this time of the year. While there are thousands of articles out there talking about udder health and calf management during this season, rarely any discuss the workers who perform these jobs under these conditions.
Are we taking care of our workforce that in turn protects our herds from Mother Nature’s most severe elements? According to Jorge Delgado, Alltech On-Farm Support Program manager, dairy owners need to remember that most of their Hispanic workers have never dealt with snow or low temperatures. Delgado offers these five tips for dairy owners to share with their employees milking, bedding and feeding their cows.
1. Both female and male employees should wear leggings or thermal underwear under their pants. Wool and fabrics such as silk and propylene will keep them warmer than other fabrics will. Keep in mind, this may be something totally new for a lot of them.
2. Blouses and shirts should have sleeves that hug their wrists and should be worn to keep in body heat.
3. Have them wear heavy socks to keep their feet warm (two or three pairs). Wool socks are best. Cotton socks should be avoided. Make sure they are wearing boots that are insulated and waterproof. If you can, provide shoe-boot dryers in locker rooms.
4. Provide milkers with gloves they can use underneath milking gloves. These will keep hands warmer than the gloves will.
5. A lot of the companies dairies do business with provide stocking hats that can go over their ears as well as their head. Ask for a bunch for your workers, so they can be protected from the heat that escapes from their heads.
Delgado also suggests dairy owners make sure their operations include:
• Heat blowers in the parlor: Make sure they are working. In a lot of dairies, parlor heaters work only half way or don’t work at all. Fix the heaters and doors on skid steer loaders.
• Have some rock salt. Rock salt helps melt the ice on slippery surfaces and mixed with sand can give temporary traction on holding areas and stairs in the parlor.
• Have plenty of drinking water in the parlor to keep employees from getting dehydrated. “Tell your workers doing chores outdoors, it is ok to take adequate breaks from the cold,” Delgado said. “These are the people taking care of your animals.
Remember that this is a new experience for most of these guys and they deserve to be treated with respect.” For more information about the Alltech On-Farm Solutions and Support program, please visit www.alltech.com or call (800)289-8324.
Editor’s Note: This commentary is sponsored by Alltech, Inc. For more information on animal health and nutrition, go to: www.alltech.com
This commentary is for informational purposes only. The opinions and comments expressed herein represent the opinions of the author--they do not necessarily reflect the opinion of Farms.com. This commentary is not intended to provide individual advice to anyone. Farms.com will not be liable for any errors or omissions in the information, or for any damages or losses in any way related to this commentary.