Celebrating 25 years while pursuing opportunities to raise the bar. This was the focus of a broad contingent of livestock industry and farm animal care community participants who came together for the Livestock Care Conference, March 14-15 in Olds, hosted by Alberta Farm Animal Care (AFAC).
AFAC marks its 25th anniversary in 2018 as an organization representing producers and others in the farm animal care community. AFAC works with this community to promote responsible farm animal care through various education, extension, research and communication activities. The Livestock Care Conference is AFAC’s signature annual event, offering special sessions and a main speaker agenda on important farm animal care topics.
The 2018 conference was attended by over 200 participants, including a strong presence of 49 students, and was headlined by featured speaker Dr. Temple Grandin, the world-renowned livestock welfare and handling expert. The event also included presentation of AFAC Awards of Distinction. The award for communication went to the East Olds Dairy Farmers group for its Breakfast on the Dairy Farm initiative. The award for leadership went to Lakeland College for its high standards and ongoing commitment to animal welfare.
“We have come a long way over 25 years,” says Grandin, a professor of animal science at Colorado State University. “Animal welfare and handling have greatly improved. In many cases we have in fact seen huge improvements. We have done better at telling our story but still not enough people know about it. We need to keep communicating with the public about the good things that have been done.”
Welcome messages at the conference celebrated the past while looking toward the future, by featuring Susan Church, the first and longtime manager of AFAC, followed by current AFAC Executive Director Annemarie Pedersen. “I am so proud to have been a part of this progressive and action-based organization,” says Church. “The future is bright as we look forward to another 25 years and beyond for AFAC.”
Progress in farm animal care continues as a pivotal focus for industry progress and outreach, says Pedersen. “As we celebrate 25 years of AFAC, it’s a great time to take stock of where we are today and where we want to go in the future. It’s an exciting time to be in the livestock sector. As a group we have a real opportunity to do something important and special together.”
The conference featured a Meet the Experts session connecting students with mentors, a Humane Handling Workshop, and an inaugural launch and feedback session for the new Livestock Welfare Engagement Project. Topics for the main speaker agenda also included “Pig Production: Changing Times and Changing Ways,” “Can Old School Farming be the Future of Food?” “Proactive Approach in the Poultry Industry,” “Cattle Research Panel: Progress in Beef, Dairy and Transportation,” “A Little Something to Ruminate on,” “Engaging the Public: How to Tell YOUR Story,” and more.
Full details are available on the AFAC website, at www.afac.ab.ca.