Many animal control officers and people working in law enforcement have little or no experience and knowledge related to livestock evaluation, handling and management. Realizing this is a problem, the Michigan Humane Society (MHS) approached Michigan State University (MSU) Extension knowing we would have the expertise to work toward a solution. The result: MSU Extension partnered with MHS and the Michigan Association of Animal Control Officers (MAACO) to produce a program session at the Michigan Partnership for Animal Welfare Great Lakes Animal Welfare Conference, which took place Oct. 19-20 at the FireKeepers Casino Hotel in Battle Creek, Michigan.
The program session “Livestock Evaluation and Handling” included three hours of classroom instruction and three hours of practical on-farm learning on Oct. 20. Twenty-five people from 15 Michigan counties and from Kentucky and Indiana attended.
Presenters for the morning classroom portion of the program included Dr. Judy Marteniuk, MSU Extension equine veterinarian; Dr. Karen Waite, MSU Extension equine specialist; Tom Guthrie, MSU Extension equine and pork educator; Kevin Gould, MSU Extension beef educator; and Mike Metzger, MSU Extension small ruminants and forages educator.
On-farm learning opportunities in the afternoon included a visit and tour of the Ladine Dairy Farm in Bellevue with hosts David and Sally Bivens. Participants learned to evaluate animal body condition and to assess housing, and they found out more about the overall management practices of dairy cattle. They also visited Neal’s Hereford Farms in Bellevue with host Becky Neal, currently president of MAACO. Here, participants observed and participated in handling of beef cattle as well as handling, haltering and working around equine. In addition to the farm hosts, all of the MSU Extension presenters mentioned in the above paragraph took part in educating attendees at the farms.
Besides hosting, Becky Neal was responsible for procuring both farms for the event. Others who helped with the program included Linda Reider, former MHS statewide initiatives director; Ann Griffin, MHS special projects manager; and Terry MacKillop, past president of MAACO.
At the end of the program, Becky Neal asked for feedback from the participants. All agreed that the program was beneficial, and that they would use the information gained in their work. They also felt that they would like more of this type of programming in the future. Afterward, she asked the presenters if they would be willing to do more of this in the future even if it was not in conjunction with the conference.
The program presenters also felt that the event was worthwhile.
“We felt that this was a good program and that the participants got useful animal handling knowledge and body condition scoring knowledge, as well as information on how dairy farms operate and the care that they give their animals,” said Mike Metzger.
Sounds like a success to me! Thank you to the entire team for stepping up to the challenge.