From the 16th of May to the 19th the Partnership held an online training program on cattle pregnancy testing in collaboration with the Institut Pertanian Bogor (IPB) in Indonesia.
The four-day program, which used digital interfacing technology to bring students and course facilitators together, was a litmus test for how the Partnership’s skills development programs might play out over the remainder of 2020.
The portion of the course held in May was deemed such a success that the pregnancy testing program was extended into a second phase to be held from the 13th to the 16th of June.
The Partnership also announced plans for similar online courses in reproduction management for veterinarians and livestock business management for smallholder farmers.
The pregnancy testing course attracted 20 selected participants from Aceh to Papua, including feedlot employees, independent paramedics working with local animal husbandry offices, government officials, and members of farmers associations.
Facilitators led a two-hour online lecture and discussion in each session, with topics including the theory of reproductive and cattle pregnancy pathology, postpartum and neonatal treatments, and pregnancy testing techniques such as rectal palpation and ultrasonography.
Kartini Awendu, from North Biak District in Papua, the easternmost province in Indonesia, said the online training was particularly useful to learn more about the anatomy and pathology of pregnant cattle.
“And, of course, how to diagnose pregnancy in cows,” she added.
The 34-year-old, who works at the Biak Animal Husbandry Office, said she is grateful to have been selected as a participant because she lives in a remote area and does not get many opportunities to engage in training that can expand her knowledge on animal reproduction.
“Now I can help more farmers in my village to correctly diagnose the cow’s pregnancy and quickly detect any abnormalities,” Kartini said.
Another participant, Muhammad Dahlan, explained that the training was extremely relevant to his job as a local animal paramedic in Boyolali Regency, Central Java, where he deals with artificial insemination.
“It’s really amazing to be able to obtain knowledge no matter what the current situation is,” Dahlan said of the online course. “I received so much new information from the mentors who are experts in their field.”
Each participant was also required to conduct physical pregnancy tests independently, with the results discussed in online group sessions.
Dahlan said that sharing knowledge with other participants was very helpful and made him more aware of the challenges for cattle pregnancy testing in different regions.
Dr Muhammad Agil, one of the course facilitators from the Faculty of Veterinary Medicine at IPB, pointed out that the success of the online program had positive implications for the industry because this model of training can provide access for participants from very remote areas of Indonesia.
“The online discussions went very well,” Dr Agil said. “The students didn’t hold back and asked many questions—not only on pregnancy testing, but also on general cattle health.”
Nevertheless, Dr Agil suggested that online courses should not be seen as a substitute for practical, hands-on training in the longer term. He said such courses should instead be considered as complementary measures that can enhance participants’ knowledge of cattle reproduction prior to any hands-on training.
“With this online training, the objective is to create a better understanding among the participants, so that during hands-on training they already know the terms and the techniques,” Dr Agil said.
Course participant Yustiko, who works at PT Buana Karya Bhakti in South Kalimantan, agreed with Dr Agil’s position.
“I’m happy we can still get training like this, even though we can’t meet face-to-face,” Yustiko said. “But I do look forward to hands-on training so that I can use the theories I have learned in the field, under the supervision of facilitators.”
For more information on the Partnership’s skills development programs, visit https://redmeatcattlepartnership.org/project/3/capacity-building