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University of Wisconsin–Madison

Mooving Cows: An innovative learning approach using a serious game to improve cow-handling skills in dairy-farm personnel

On Wisconsin dairy farms, millions of human-cow interactions occur each day. Handling cows is necessary to harvest milk and provide animal care, but presents a risk of injury to personnel. Furthermore, inappropriate handling of cows impairs animal welfare and milk production and erodes public trust in dairy farming practices. Proper cow handling requires effective training, but existing resources have substantial limitations and lack evidence of effectiveness. Education research has demonstrated that “serious games” produce positive learning outcomes.

This project will create a digital serious game to transform training in farm animal handling. Trainees will practice proper techniques in a simulated setting – safe for both people and cows. Research Forward funding will enable programming and pilot testing of the training tool with dairy farm personnel. This multidisciplinary team comprises experts in animal welfare science, veterinary medicine, social psychology and behavior change, human health, and multilingual education and extension.


Jennifer Van Os, assistant professor of animal and dairy sciences


Nigel Cook, professor and chair of food animal production in medical sciences


Markus Brauer. Professor pf psychology

Olufunmilola Abraham, assistant professor of pharmacy

Dominic Ledesma, interim director of diversity and inclusion for the UW–Madison Division of Extension