Animal Welfare Judging Contest first at Iowa State University

November 30, 2017

Animal Welfare Judging ContestIowa State University hosted the 17 th annual Intercollegiate Animal Welfare Judging and Assessment Competition on November 18 th for the first time ever. There were close to 150 participants, 34 teams combined and students traveled from across the US and Canada to compete.    Sponsored by the American Veterinary Medical Association and Merck Animal Health, the contest was open to veterinary students, undergraduates, graduate students and a limited number of practicing veterinarians. 

Dr. Anna Johnson, ISU Associate Professor of Animal Behavior and Well-Being and expert member of the Iowa Farm Animal Care Evaluation Team says the event teaches students how to assess animal welfare through a class, practice and then competition utilizing all the skills they have learned. There are two separate sections within the contest: Team and Individual. This year the individual portion of the contest focused on situations involving meat rabbits, fish and greyhound racing. Participants were asked to work through a series of power point presentations and formulate a ranking then meet with an expert to provide oral reasoning. Dr. Johnson says the contest allowed students the opportunity to sharpen their skills in critical thinking, reasoning and oral presentation as well as learn about animal welfare. 

The Team portion of the competition was a live scenario where a group of 3-5 students determine the most humane environment for an animal and why. This year the group traveled to the ISU Swine Teaching farm and compared the finisher pigs in the conventional room vs. the finisher pigs in the hoop building. In both stations they reviewed the recordkeeping, pig handling, biosecurity, accident reporting, euthanasia and overall facilities.  They also evaluated the pigs. The team then provided oral reasoning as to which environment was the most humane and why.  

Dr. Anna Johnson and Dr. Suzanne Millman organized the event with assistance by Farms Director Ben Drescher, Swine Teaching Farms Manager Jeff Hartwig, Assistant Manager Karle Lane and students Ella Akin, Shoki Hirano, Emily Settle, Erica Hellmich, Jofran Oliveira, Megan Nickel, Josie Lee and Haylie Owens. Dr. Johnson says “I think that welfare has become front stage and center in discussions. It’s important for our students to not only have an appreciation and understanding of the topic but to also be able to find the science behind it, reason and present a clear point of view on the subject matter.”

Iowa State ranked 5 th in the overall team placing within the Undergraduate Division and 4th in the Overall team placing within the Veterinary Division. To read more about the contest, click here:  http://atwork.avma.org/2017/11/06/avma-programs-bring-animal-welfare-to-the-forefront/