WHILE udder health, minimizing calf stress and tips for protecting the herd are often popular dairy health topics during the winter, there is little discussion about the workers who perform these jobs in extreme weather conditions.
Jorge Delgado, on-farm support program manager for Alltech, offered the following five tips for dairy owners to share with the employees who milk, bed and feed the cows:
1. All 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.
2. Shirts and blouses should have sleeves that hug the wrists and should be worn to keep in body heat.
3. Employees should wear heavy socks (two or three pairs) to keep their feet warm. Wool socks are best; cotton socks should be avoided. Employees should wear boots that are insulated and waterproof. If possible, dairy owners should provide shoe/boot dryers in locker rooms.
4. Dairy owners should provide milking employees with gloves they can use underneath milking gloves to keep their hands warmer.
5. A lot of the companies with which dairies do business provide stocking hats that cover the head and ears. Owners can ask for these for their workers.
Delgado also suggested that dairy owners make sure that their operations include:
* Heat blowers in the parlor. Make sure they are working. In many dairies, parlor heaters may not work properly or do not work at all. Fix the heaters and doors on skid-steer loaders.
* Rock salt. Rock salt helps melt the ice on slippery surfaces and, when mixed with sand, can provide temporary traction on holding areas and stairs in the parlor.
* Plenty of drinking water in the parlor to keep employees from getting dehydrated.
"Tell your workers doing chores outdoors that it is okay to take adequate breaks from the cold," Delgado suggested. "These are the people taking care of your animals."
Alltech is a global animal health and nutrition company that develops natural products to enhance animal health and performance.