AB Oost is a Dutch employment agency that delivers temporary farm workers to dairies. They just organized a stress-free stockmanship training for their employees with our trainer Bert van Niejenhuis. We interviewed organizer Silvan Schrijver, who is the QHSE coordinator (Quality, Health, Safety, Environment) at AB Oost.
Why did you decide to do a training stress-free stockmanship with AB Oost
We expected with stress-free stockmanship employees would work more safely and have more knowledge and skills.
Though working with cattle is never without risk, we were getting increasingly more reports on aggressive cows. We heard the same from other parties in the industry and noticed quite some accidents while handling cattle. There are multiple factors involved, for example breeding and the way the farmer handles the cows. We, as visitors on the farms, are of influence as well. Our organization can’t really change the first factors, but we can make sure that our employees have the right knowledge and skills when handling cattle. That way we can deliver quality and we can set the right example. We expected that with a stress-free stockmanship training the employees would be able to work more safely and have more knowledge and skills. Together with our employees we decided to start with a pilot.
How do you look back on the training?
Based on what I had read on beforehand and my conversation with Joep Driessen I already was very enthusiastic and had high expectations. These expectations have been met for sure.
Your people already have a lot of experience between the cows. What did they think of the training?
We noticed that a few of them answered to the training invite with some scepsis. They were wondering whether the course wouldn’t be too vague, which I can imagine. For us being practically applicable was one of the knock-out criteria for the training, so we made sure on behorehand that usability is one of the strong points of the training. Thankfully, the reactions from the participants were very positive. That’s why we decided to follow-up with more training sessions.
What did the training get you in the end?
Most participants said it was a good way to sharpen their skills and become more aware of their own behaviour
For many the course was, fortunately, a confirmation that they were already doing things right. Now this is supported by facts as well. There were also people who, despite their experience, had learned some new things. Most of them told it was a good way to sharpen their skills and become more aware of their own behaviour. Of course, we’ll be monitoring the effect of the training on the number of incidents. However, it still too early to draw any conclusions yet.
How important is stress-free stockmanship as a skill for people who work between cows according to you?
Very important. To prevent accidents, but also to work more efficient and minimalize physical strain. Especially pushing and pulling cattle is a huge strain. Finally, less stress among cattle means less lameness and therefore a better milk production. So stress-free stockmanship is important for our employees, the cows and the clients!
You might also find these blogs interesting:
• Stress-free stockmanship made me safer and more efficient
• Interview with Jan and Joep on stress-free stockmanship
• Stress-free stockmanship: stop and go