A new educational video game called “Mooving Cows,” which gives dairy workers and anyone interested the opportunity to practice cow handling skills, is now publicly available to download and play. The free game was developed by UW–Madison researchers and is available in both the iOS (Apple) and Google Play (Android) app stores. Details about the game, including app store links, are available at https://animalwelfare.cals.wisc.edu/mooving_cows/.
The idea for the game arose from feedback received from Wisconsin dairy producers, explains Jennifer Van Os, assistant professor and extension specialist in the UW–Madison Department of Animal and Dairy Sciences. Over the years, says Van Os, she has heard from numerous producers seeking better training options for milkers and other staff members on proper cow handling – ways to move cows through dairy facilities that help ensure worker safety, while minimizing cow stress and injury.
Compared to currently available training articles and videos, the video game format allows for a more active, engaging learning experience. In the game, players focus on practicing routine cow movement in simulated milking parlor, pasture, and freestall pen environments. Players learn how their actions affect cow behavior, stress and milk production.
The game was developed based on decades of research and with input from over 60 people in the Wisconsin dairy community, including dairy farm owners, milkers, dairy consultants and veterinarians.
The game can be played in English or Spanish, and it takes around 30 minutes to complete. People who successfully complete all levels receive a certificate of completion. This certificate can be used as documentation for the Farmers Assuring Responsible Management (FARM) Animal Care Program, which requires everyone with animal handling roles on dairy farms to have annual continuing education on proper animal handling.
Funding to develop Mooving Cows came from the UW Dairy Innovation Hub and the Research Forward initiative hosted by the UW–Madison Office of the Vice Chancellor for Research and Graduate Education.
INFORMATION FOR MEDIA:
Contact: Jennifer Van Os, firstname.lastname@example.org
A screenshot from the video game is available at: https://www.flickr.com/photos/uwmadisoncals/53487323335/