Assessing dairy employees’ mental health status in South Dakota: Workplace

Document Type


Publication Date



American Dairy Science Association


Journal of Dairy Science




Suppl. 1






dairy workers, stress factors, focus group


The dairy industry’s dynamics are changing, trending toward a larger number of cows on a single farm with more hired employees. While the majority of the US dairy farm workforce is Latino, little is known about the causes of distress in this group. One of the primary challenges Latino dairy workers face is finding a balance between building a better future and their ability to integrate within their new culture. The quality of milk production is directly related to the well-being of dairy farm employees, and stress can have a negative impact on both employees and the farm. Behavior and health assessments can help to identify anxiety and stress caused by various sources. This study aimed to gather infor- mation on the main causes of behavioral stress in dairy farm employees along the I-29 corridor (South Dakota) and evaluate how it affects their work performance and job satisfaction. Six focus groups (FG) of 1 h each in Spanish were conducted with workers (n = 50; 88% male) from México, Guatemala, and other Latino countries (54%, 30%, and 16%, respectively). Transcriptions of the FG were analyzed and coded line by line for each quotation by using ATLAS.TI software (Scientific Software Development GmbH). Over 38 factors contributing to overall stress and job satisfaction at the workplace were identified and grouped as: 1. Work schedule; 2. Cattle handling; 3. Equipment failures; 4. Lack of teamwork; 5. Pressure at the workplace; 6. Interruptions at work; 7. Perception of the workload; 8. Extended shifts; 9. Weather seasons; and 10. Lack of communication skills in English. This project revealed areas of stress for the dairy employees that we were not aware of and needs further consideration. The FG results provided valuable insight that can be used to create better management strategies in the future to help dairy workers to cope with stress and learn how to mitigate stress at work in a healthy manner. Based on the information gathered, a tri-fold brochure was developed with basic knowledge covering stress causes and ways to reduce it. Supported by HICAHS Community-Initiated Grant Program (Colorado State University).

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