UC Davis students competed well in the university’s inaugural trip to the Animal Welfare Judging Contest sponsored by the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) at Colorado State University in November.
Altogether, 145 participants representing 22 universities competed in four categories: dairy goats, egg laying ducks, green iguanas and polo ponies. The species evaluated vary year to year. UC Davis had 14 undergraduate, graduate and veterinary students compete, as well as two coaches.
“This is the first time we have sent teams to this contest,” said Richard Blatchford, a UC Davis Cooperative Extension poultry specialist and the faculty adviser on the trip to Fort Collins. “We returned with four placings. I was very proud of their hard work, and they represented the college fantastically.”
The competition, begun in 2002, teaches students to assess the welfare of animals in a variety of settings using science-based methods and reasoning. Students evaluate performance, health, physiologic and behavioral data—all measures of animal welfare—and then explain their rationale to the judges. The idea is to ensure that future leaders in the animal industries develop strong communication skills and acquire enhanced knowledge of animal welfare.
UC Davis graduate students included Alicia Drwencke, Karli Chudeau, Sarah Adcock, Rachel Coon and Maggie Creamer. They placed second and fifth overall in individual categories and placed third in the overall team category.
The UC Davis undergraduate team included students Tanya Douglas, Sabrina Mederos, Elizabeth Sanchez, Melissa Thurston and Zhao (Lucy) Xu. They placed fourth in the overall team category.
The UC Davis contingent also included coaches Allison Pullin, an animal behavior Ph.D. student, and Kaleiah Schiller, an animal biology Ph.D. student. Thirteen of the UC Davis participants are affiliated with the Center for Animal Welfare at UC Davis.
Travel support funding was provided by the Diane Forbes Fund for Animal Welfare and the Department of Animal Science Educational Enhancement Fund.
More information about the Animal Welfare Assessment Contest is available on the organization’s website.