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  Home > Research > Stockmanship


Stockmanship uses our knowledge of the behavior of cows to optimize cow flow, wellbeing and production on farm and to reduce the risk for worker injuries.

Completed Projects


Ongoing Projects

Stockmanship Training as Tool to Improve Cattle Flow and Productivity and Reduce the Injury Risk of Workers on Dairy Farms
Team: Riki Sorge (PI) and Jeff Bender (UMN-CVM), Amy Stanton (U of Wisconsin)
Funding Source: MN Agricultural Experiment Station
Project Time Frame: 2014-2015.
The goal is to identify new approaches to reduce worker injuries in dairies and to improve cattle flow and productivity on dairy farms. The working hypothesis is that stockmanship training will improve cattle flow and production on dairy farms and also decrease the incidence of injuries of dairy workers.
The specific objectives of the study are: 1) Audit the current stockmanship knowledge, skills and behaviors of the dairy workforce, 2) To prospectively describe the occurrence of injuries of Minnesota dairy farm workers, and 3) Assess the impact of stockmanship training on stockmanship skills, cattle flow and productivity and worker injury frequency on Minnesota and Wisconsin dairy farms.
Seven dairy farms in Minnesota and Wisconsin with 400 or more milking cows have participated in this study. Cameras were installed on 6 of these dairy farms and stockmanship training has been conducted on site in both English and Spanish. Data collected include farm descriptive data (i.e. layout and production data), human and animal behaviors (i.e. cow slips, switch-arounds in the milking leadup, cattle vocalizations, worker use of prods, and worker noises) and incident of worker injuries. The data collection was completed in January 2015 and currently, the data is being analyzed.
This unique prospective study evaluates the impact of stockmanship training on animal welfare,production, and worker injuries. These data will have bearing on future training and educational programs to promote animal and worker health. Our hope is to garner funding to develop outreach and educational programs that promote stockmanship training for smaller dairies or family farms.

Video Resources

Most curently available video resources are tailored towards the needs of beef producers. However, the same stockmanship principles apply to both dairy and beef cows.

Working with a cow 

Working one cow calmly out of group pen

Working cattle in a postive manner

Getting motion into tame cow

Colostrum collection

Calm cows going to the milking parlor

Dairy Handling Skills Part I

Dairy Handling Skills Part II

AU perspective on best handling practices

Destressing newly arrived animals

Efficient and novel method for sorting cattle

Proper use of a tail twist

Faculty working on Stockmanship

Dr. Sorge

Dr. Ulrike ('Riki') Sorge

Dr. Cramer

Dr. Gerard Cramer


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