March 15, 2015


 Students’ animal welfare knowledge tested

Posted Feb. 25, 2015

The 14th annual Intercollegiate Animal Welfare Judging/Assessment Contest was held Nov. 22-23, 2014, at Michigan State University.

Initial participants were primarily undergraduate students; however, in 2008, a veterinary division was launched with the assistance of the AVMA in response to growing interest. There are now three divisions, and the competition is used as an educational tool that helps veterinary students and undergraduate and graduate students in animal science programs understand complex animal welfare issues. Participants learn objective assessment of animal welfare on the basis of scientific theory and data, critical thinking, and ethical reasoning, and they learn communication skills.

A total of 116 students and 28 teams competed in the latest contest, a 20 percent increase over the number of participants in 2013.

Students were tasked with analyzing the welfare of animals presented in comparative scenarios, determining whether the animals’ welfare in one scenario was better or worse than in the other, and then explaining their decisions to a panel of judges. This year, captive seals, cats in shelters, and swine were assessed virtually, while students traveled to MSU’s beef cow-calf operation to conduct a live assessment.

Veterinary Student Section: First place—David McPhee, University of Guelph; second place—Kelly Arthur, Colorado State University; third place—Timothy Cashin, University of Prince Edward Island. Undergraduate Section: First place—Alex Harvey, Colorado State University; second place—Caitlyn Mullins, The Ohio State University; third place—Courtney Thomas, University of Guelph. Graduate Section: First place—Nicole Cummings, University of Wisconsin-Madison; second place—Christopher Byrd, Purdue University; third place—Andrea Habinski, University of Guelph.

Team Live Assessment Exercise: Veterinary Student Section—Univer­sity of Guelph. Undergraduate Section—University of Wisconsin-Madison. Graduate Section—University of Guelph. Individual Live Assessment Exercise: Veterinary Student Section—Philip LaTourette, University of Georgia. Graduate Section—Hugo Felipe da Costa Santos, Colorado State University.

Overall Team Placing: Veterinary Student Section: First place—University of Guelph; second place—Colorado State University; third place—The Ohio State University. Undergraduate Section: First place—The Ohio State University; second place—Colorado State University; third place—University of Guelph. Graduate Student Section: First place—Purdue University; second place—University of Guelph; third place—University of Wisconsin-Madison.

Support for the competition comes from several partners, with the AVMA providing nearly $18,000, including travel grants in amounts up to $400 aiding 28 veterinary students’ attendance. The Student AVMA also provided support for student travel grants. Tyson’s Farmcheck Program has provided funding for operational costs for the past two years.

The 2015 competition will be held Nov. 14-15 at The Ohio State University. Information on the upcoming competition will be posted here.