Mooving Cows: An innovative tool for diverse audiences to learn dairy cow handling practices

PI: Jennifer Van Os

Van Os is an assistant professor of animal and dairy sciences and extension specialist at UW–Madison. Her research focuses on understanding, evaluating, and improving the welfare of dairy animals from biological- and social-science perspectives.

Inappropriate handling of dairy cows adversely affects animal welfare, milk production, and public trust in dairy farming. This project is developing an innovative, digital educational game, akin to a flight simulator, to help learners understand how human actions affect cow behavior, stress, and productivity. In Objective 1, researchers will conduct pilot tests of the effectiveness of Mooving Cows with 3 new audiences: youth (grades 5-12), undergraduate students, and veterinary students. In Objective 2, researchers will update Mooving Cows to version 2.0 and release it publicly. The public release of Mooving Cows will enable all WI dairy farms to gain access to the game, which can be used to fulfill FARM Program requirements for all personnel to document annual continuing education on animal handling. This project will help WI dairy farms meet or exceed industry standards for animal welfare, publicly demonstrate their commitment to excellent cow care, and showcase the use of technology and science-based practices to the prospective future agriculture workforce.

Nigel Cook