STOCKMEN AND women have a key role to play in animal performance, but many believe the training needed is not being offered. While this is a problem across all livestock sectors, the pig industry is proposing a scheme which could show the way forward for all.

With so few staff on farm, the need for enthusiastic training across all livestock sectors has never been greater, reckons independent beef consultant Basil Lowman.

Livestock enterprises are encouraged to strip costs wherever possible, but spending time and money on on-farm training is non-productive, he says. “There must be an easier means of offering training but still with the practical emphasis.”

Independent vet consultant Tony Andrews sees a need across the livestock sector for better training in the administration of medicine. “Many livestock handlers do not have a clear understanding of medicine use. Not every antibiotic has the same effect.”

He believes training would help give manual workers a deserved higher status. “When handling livestock the most crucial duties are often at this level, including diet, health and disease control management.”

The livestock sector in general has been poor at training over the years, with many stockmen relying on communication down the generations, says the National Pig Association”s Ian Campbell. “With unit sizes increasing, there is a greater need for specific training.”

Certificate of competence

Recognising there isn’t a national training scheme geared to a pig unit’s needs, Pork Chain Solutions consultant Gerry Brent has worked with the National Proficiency Tests Council to produce a certificate of competence scheme.

“Qualification, which will be set at three levels, is optional and includes basic stockmanship and welfare, conduct of operational skills and pig unit supervision and operation,” he explains.

Knowing that many stockman prefer being practically assessed to written examinations, qualifications proposed will be geared that way, adds Mr Brent.

Independent sheep consultant Lesley Stubbings says such moves towards better training methods can only be a good thing. “With concern surrounding worm resistance in the sheep sector, greater awareness of the administration of drenches and medicines is also needed.” Training on lambing, foot trimming and shearing is also limited.

NBA policy adviser Kim-Marie Haywood agrees there is a need for extra training across livestock sectors which could also encourage young people. “Agricultural colleges do a good job of training, but there are fewer teaching basic skills and it is scary how many young people do not wish to stay in the industry.”

STOCKPERSON TRAINING

Must be enthusiastic

Practical assessment

Emphasis on drug administration

Status for manual workers