4-H Animal Care and Well-Being Guide released
New resource regarding animal care and well-being to assist those who manage or participate in public events involving animals.
County fairs are a wonderful opportunity for 4-H youth to share their animal science knowledge with visitors of all ages. With fewer and fewer people having a direct connection to agriculture, many questions arise about common practices to care for animals, especially during the fair. Michigan State University Extension, with support from the MSU Department of Animal Science, has created a new resource to assist those who manage or participate in public events involving animals.
The Animal Care and Well-Being Guide is a document intended to help youth and adults plan for animal events, provide the best care preactices for their animals while housed in a temporary, public setting and share accurate information about animal care and agriculture. The guide is divided into three sections:
- Guidelines for ensuring appropriate care of animals in a public setting. This section includes planning strategies for event managers or superintended before, after and during the animal event. Current links to important information from the Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development (MDARD), including Generally Accepted Agricultural Management Practices (GAAMPs) for the Care of Farm Animal and Requirements for Livestock Exhibited in Michigan, as well as the link to locate the local and state anticruelty laws are part of the document. Also part of this first section is a General Animal Care Guidelines and Checklist, which has specific actions youth and adults can check off to ensure the highest level of care of animal while at the fair, exhibition or animal event. This checklist is a tool that provides a formalized method to make sure all chores are completed everyday while the animals are at the animal event. It can even be used at home as a double check or way to help remind youth who are just starting what they must do at least once every day to guarantee the health, comfort and well-being of their animals.
- Suggestions for educating the public about animals and animal agriculture. Less than 2 percent of the United States population lives or works on a modern farm. This creates a great disconnect between consumers, farmers and farming operations. Animal events open to the public are opportunities to educate those not involved in agriculture about how animals are actually raised and cared for. This section offers suggestions of how youth may share their agricultural experience and knowledge with the public, and how event managers or superintendents and parents can support youth on this endeavor. Additional ideas and resources are available at the Breakfast on the Farm website.
- Recommendations for responding if demonstrations or animal-activist activity is present at your event. Most animal event visitors are seeking information because they truly want to learn more about animal agriculture and understand how animals are cared for. However, there may be event visitors that have very strong opinions on animal agriculture seeking to demonstrate and share their views during the event. The final section of the guide has recommendations on how to respond if this situation does arise. Information is provided for event managers or superintendents, parents, volunteers and youth, each having a different role and responsibility in how they respond and interact with individuals who may be demonstrating.