The game was designed by UW-Madison researchers. The idea arose from conversations with Wisconsin dairy producers who requested more effective training options for milkers and other dairy staff members to learn and practice cow handling. Proper cow handling is essential to ensure personnel safety while minimizing cow stress and injury and maximizing milk production and parlor efficiency.
Compared to currently available training articles and videos, the interactive format of a video game allows for a more active, engaging learning experience. In the game, players practice routine cow movement in simulated milking parlor, freestall pen, and pasture settings. Players learn how their actions affect cow behavior, stress, and milk production.
The cow movement principles in the game were developed based on decades of research. During the development process, our research team sought input from over 60 people in the Wisconsin dairy community, including farm owners, employees, consultants, and veterinarians. These play testers provided invaluable feedback to improve the game and make sure it would be relevant for people who move cows for milking on a routine basis. They also provided ideas for future additional game scenarios which could help people practice navigating other cow handling situations, such as dealing with emergencies involving nonambulatory cattle or working in maternity or calving pens.
The game can be played in English or Spanish. For most people, it takes around 30 minutes to complete. People who successfully complete all eight levels in the game receive a certificate of completion as an image file. The certificate can be used as documentation for the Farmers Assuring Responsible Management (FARM) Animal Care program, which expects everyone with animal care roles on dairy farms to have annual continuing education on proper animal handling.
Funding to develop “Mooving Cows” came from the Research Forward initiative hosted by the UW-Madison office of the vice chancellor for research and graduate education as well as the Wisconsin Dairy Innovation Hub. This funding allowed the app to be released to the public for free and with no advertisements. We welcome industry partnerships to ensure this educational resource can remain freely accessible to all dairy farms into the future.