The theme of the 2019 Livestock Care Conference (LCC) reflected the goal of the conference – to have the industry working together to advance farm animal care today, while pushing the pace for a strong future. This was the focus championed by a broad contingent of livestock industry and farm animal care community participants who came together for the LCC, March 20-21 in Olds, Alta., hosted by Alberta Farm Animal Care (AFAC).
“Our livestock sector is constantly changing and evolving. Animal care and welfare remains a top focus and one that is increasingly in the spotlight for everyone from producers to consumers,” says Cora Scheele, a Linden, Alta, hatching egg producer and Chair of AFAC. “We are doing a lot of great things. New insights and technology will help us to continue to improve. Let’s roll up our sleeves and work together.”
AFAC is building upon a strong legacy 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 LCC is AFAC’s signature annual event, offering special sessions and a main speaker program on important farm animal care topics.
“It’s an exciting time for Alberta Farm Animal Care,” says Executive Director Annemarie Pedersen, who delivered a welcome message and presented an updated strategic plan for the organization. “Collaboration and partnership are the foundation as we move forward.”
The 2019 conference, themed “Partners in Progress: Tools for Success” was attended by almost 200 participants, including a major youth contingent of 29 students. The main program featured a strong lineup of leading experts and invigorating speakers. It was headlined by keynote presenter Dr. Rebecca Gimenez Husted who delivered experiences, learnings and insights based on the Technical Large Animal Emergency Rescue (TLAER) training sessions she delivers across the United States, Canada and internationally.
“In every situation what’s important is safety – for self, team and the animal,” says Gimenez Husted. “Teamwork, pre-planning, and resources are critical to ensure safety and to execute the appropriate actions when called for. Don’t wait to establish how things are going to work. Let’s make decisions now so we’re ready – that’s the key to success.”
The conference also included presentations of AFAC Awards of Distinction. The Award of Distinction for Communication was presented to Brenda Schoepp for her remarkable contributions over 40 years of championing and sharing the story of farm animal care as an international mentor, inspirational speaker, creative writer, and active farmer. The Award of Distinction for Industry Leadership was presented to beef producer Stacey Simpson for providing a leading example of devotion to farm animal care on her family farm.
The workshop-focused first day of the conference featured a Meet the Experts session connecting students with mentors, and a TLAER Humane Handling workshop. A welcome reception including beer tasting, beef dinner and trivia night, wrapped up the first day.
The second day began with the AFAC Annual General Meeting, and the conference agenda included “Equine RRSP: Retirement, Rescue, Slaughter and Public Attitudes,” panel sessions on antimicrobial use under the new regulations and regulatory teamwork, “Navigating ‘tough’ conversations in animal welfare,” and presentations on poultry behaviour & lighting as well as the new Feedlot Assessment Tool. The event also included the opportunity to see an Emergency Livestock Handling Equipment Trailer first-hand. Full details are available on the AFAC website, at www.afac.ab.ca, including conference photos, blog items and recognition of valued sponsors who made the conference and student participation possible.