Welcome to Mooving Cows (TM), where players practice mooving cows around a dairy farm. It’s time for milking, so the cows need to be brought out of their pasture paddock or pen in the barn and loaded into the milking parlor. This game provides a simulated, safe setting for people to learn or practice basic practical skills in cow handling. The principles are based on decades of scientific research. The game was designed by faculty at the University of Wisconsin-Madison with input from people who work on or with real dairy farms in Wisconsin.
Who is the game for?
People who work on dairy farms need to handle cows on a regular basis. This includes fetching the cows at milking time or moving them to provide healthcare. Throughout the U.S. dairy industry and worldwide, dairy farms participate in animal care quality assurance programs. Today, 99% of U.S. dairy farms participate in the Farmers Assuring Responsible Management (FARM) Animal Care program. An expectation of FARM is that anyone who works with cattle should have annual continuing education in stockmanship (cow handling).
In addition, cow handling skills are relevant for veterinary students, researchers, undergraduate animal or dairy science students, and youth 4-H participants. Anyone who wants to learn about dairy farming or who likes cows is welcome to enjoy this free educational game!
Key learning objectives
Players take on the role of a person working on a dairy farm. The objective is to learn to speak “moo” and use your body language to moove cows effectively and efficiently. When cows are handled appropriately, their fear and stress levels are kept to a minimum. When cows are calm, this maximizes their milk production. They behave more predictably, reducing the risk of injury to both themselves and their human caregivers.
Why a video game?
- “Serious games” have produced positive learning outcomes in contexts such as professional and military training, educational classrooms, and in health-behavior education.
- Serious games result in better learning and retention compared to conventional instructional approaches.
- Games allow players to experience situations that would be challenging to create otherwise, due to barriers such as cost, time, or safety.
- The setting will be safe for both people and cows. Animal welfare is further enhanced by replacing the use of live animals with simulated ones as players practice their skills.
- Played on mobile touchscreen devices, including phones, tablets, and Chromebooks.
- Tutorials to introduce key concepts step-by-step, with voiceover narration.
- To maximize accessibility, the amount of written text is kept to a minimum.
- Available in either English or Spanish. Users can switch between languages at any time.
- Active learning – “learning by doing”.
- Opportunities to learn by making mistakes.
- Visualization to help convey concepts, such as the “flight zone.”
- Immediate feedback on players’ actions, plus end -of-level feedback.
- Certificate of completion, which can be used for documentation of continuing education.
How can I play or get access to the game?
Version 1.0 of the game is currently private for research purposes.
Coming January 10, 2024: Version 2.0 of the game will be available for free in both the iOS (Apple) and Google Play (Android) app stores!
Our vision is for this learning tool to remain free for all dairy farms in the U.S. in the long term. If you or your organization is interested in contributing toward sustaining sponsorship of Mooving Cows to help it remain free for educational purposes, please contact Dr. Van Os at: jvanos (at) wisc (dot) edu.
- Project lead: Jennifer Van Os
- Project co-lead: Nigel Cook
- Collaborators: Dominic Ledesma, Markus Brauer, Olufunmilola Abraham
- Programmed by: Filament Games
- Funding for Version 1.0: UW-Madison Research Forward Initiative
- Funding for Version 2.0: Wisconsin Dairy Innovation Hub
- Special thanks to all those who gave feedback on the prototypes and Version 1.0, including those who work on or with Wisconsin dairy farms. Full credits appear within the game.
- New UW-Madison app designed to make happier, healthier cows. October 20, 2023. By Barry Adams. Wisconsin State Journal.
- UW Develops ‘Game’ Changer In Cow Handling. October 15, 2023. Article and interview with Stephanie Hoff. Midwest Farm Report. (10 minutes).
- Engage, train ag’s future leaders with ‘Serious Education Games’. October 13, 2023. By Haley Laufenberg. Feed & Grain.
- How Wisconsin farmers handle cows to promote safety and animal welfare. October 6, 2023. Interview with Rob Ferrett. Wisconsin Public Radio. (12 minutes)
- New interactive video game teaches employees proper cow handling skills. February 14, 2023. By Jennifer Van Os. Wisconsin State Farmer.
- Video game brings cow movement to life. March 23, 2023. By Corey Geiger. Hoard’s Dairyman Intel.