Thursday, 1 December 2016

Judging animal welfare in the US

Judging Animal Welfare

The annual US Animal Welfare Judging and Assessment Competition was held at Columbus in Ohio State in November this year, sponsored by the American Veterinary Medical Association (

This is an initiative originally developed by Michigan State University and Purdue to engage undergraduate Animal Science students with Animal Welfare, and has now grown to include veterinary undergraduates and graduate students, with around 100 students from schools across USA and Canada taking part this year. Students reviewed two different scenarios for each of three different species management (meat sheep, laboratory guinea pigs and pedigree dogs) and one live scenario (poultry), and provided reasoning for why welfare was better in one situation compared to another. 

This year Prof Cathy Dwyer was one of the judges for the meat sheep scenarios, alongside animal scientists and veterinarians from Canada and the US, and also gave a guest lecture on welfare issues associated with sheep production. It was a fun, thought-provoking and exhausting weekend, with lots of intense debate about the welfare merits or costs of various practices, and Cathy was very impressed with the dedication and hard work of all the students and coaches, many of whom were students themselves. Listening to, and marking, the rapid fire delivery of 40 students, each explaining the welfare benefits of sheep scenarios in three minutes, was hard work but very rewarding to see so much attention to detail in thinking about animal welfare. Congratulations to the University of British Colombia on winning the overall best team trophy, and to all the other winners and runners-up for a close-fought competition with such impressive breadth of welfare thinking.    

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