Dairy production is key to the survival of vast numbers of people. Globally, around 150 million small-scale dairy households (equivalent to 750 million people) are engaged in milk production. Now the world’s first dairy-related ‘massive, open online course’ is available from Coursera, which partners with universities and organisations to offer web-based education courses.
According to the website, more than 5 000 people in 157 countries have already signed up for the eight-week course, called ‘Dairy Production and Management’, which will begin on 7 March this year. Dairy farmers will be offered a comprehensive rundown of all aspects of dairy management, including genetics, nutrition, reproduction, animal health and farm economics.
“The course will deliver fundamental knowledge and best practices related to sustainable dairy production systems in their broadest sense,” says course co-ordinator Alexander Hristov, professor of dairy nutrition at Penn State’s College of Agricultural Sciences.
The reward for developing the world’s first dairy production courseand management course of this size and scale, and improving dairy production around the world, is potentially huge.
“[But] it won’t be a monetary payoff,” says Hristov. “The return to the university will be minimal, but promoting animal and dairy science around the world, expanding our mission internationally, is a noble endeavour.”
The lessons will be available on demand, with students able to access the lessons at any time at no cost, or for a minimal fee if they are interested in the certificate option, says Hristov.
The course syllabus comprises: Dairy Genetics (one week); Forage, Production & Pasture Management (one week); Dairy Nutrition (two weeks); Dairy Reproduction (one week); Metabolic Disorders & Herd Health (one week); Milk Quality & Milk Hygiene (half-a-week); Dairy Farm Management & Economics (one week); and Dairy Production & Environment (half-a-week).
Click here to sign up for the course.