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Questions? The Penn State Dairy Production Certificate Program Has Answers

Posted: September 2, 2004

The Dairy Production Skills Certificate is an introductory level certificate aimed at current dairy production workers and producers who want to learn new strategies and technologies, recent high school graduates who are seeking careers in the dairy industry; and new dairy employees who need training to become productive members of the farm team. It is specifically designed for current and beginning dairy workers.

What are five key things that milkers can do to decrease new mastitis infections on the dairy?

What secondary signs of heat can herdspersons use along with heat detection aids to improve pregnancy rate in the herd?

What are key actions a feeder can take before or on the day the nutritionist visits to increase the value of communications and information shared?

These questions and others just like them will be answered during the new Penn State Dairy Production Skills Certificate program that will be held this fall and spring at Brubaker Farm in Mount Joy, Pa.

The Dairy Production Skills Certificate is an introductory level certificate aimed at current dairy production workers and producers who want to learn new strategies and technologies, recent high school graduates who are seeking careers in the dairy industry; and new dairy employees who need training to become productive members of the farm team. It is specifically designed for current and beginning dairy workers.

“Dairy producers and employees face hundreds of challenges every day,” explained Sandy Costello, workforce development specialist with Dairy Alliance, a Penn State Cooperative Extension initiative. “This program was created to address the issues most pressing on today’s dairy farms – reproduction, herd health, calf and heifer care, milking management and udder health, feeding and nutrition. We’ll be offering students the skills and knowledge they need to improve their own on-the-job performance, and thereby enhance the profitability of their farm.”

The Dairy Production Skills Certificate features six two-day training modules: Reproduction Module, scheduled Nov. 3 and 10, 2004; Herd Health Module, Nov. 16 and 23, 2004; General Production Module, Jan. 21 and 28, 2005; Calf and Heifer Module, Feb. 1 and 8, 2005; Milking Management and Udder Health Module, Feb. 24 and March 3, 2005; and Feeding and Nutrition Module, March 15 and 22, 2005. Modules will be held from 9 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.

To earn the certificate, a participant must complete the General Production Module, plus three other modules of his or her choice. Individuals who choose not to pursue a certificate may enroll in one or two modules, as class size permits.

Each module features a classroom component where theory is stressed, followed by an on-farm component where students can practice what they’ve learned in a real-world setting. “Participants will gain the knowledge they need to answer the questions and deal with the situations that they face on the job,” noted Costello. Questions like: I have a vaccine in the refrigerator that is opened, partially used, and has been there for about a week. Should I finish out the bottle? What is the actual cost per dose already used if I throw it out? Or, maybe more importantly, what is the probable cost of using it?

The modules will be taught by a team of faculty and staff from Penn State Dairy Alliance, the departments of Dairy and Animal Science, Veterinary Science, and Agricultural and Biological Engineering, county-based extension educators and key agribusiness individuals.

The Dairy Production Skills Certificate is the first certificate in the new Penn State Dairy Production Certificate Program offered by Dairy Alliance. The two other certificates in the program – the Advanced Dairy Production Certificate and the Dairy Management Certificate – will be launched in 2005.

Class size is limited. Only 25 participants will be accepted for each module. Interested dairy producers and employees are urged to register now. For more information about the certificate program, visit the Dairy Alliance website at www.dairyalliance.org, or contact Sandy Costello at 570-523-0105 or via e-mail at ssc10@psu.edu. To register for a module, contact the Dairy Alliance office at 888-373-7232. A registration form is also available online, and may be faxed to 814-865-4686.