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Attitudes and competencies of third year veterinary students towards their role as an animal welfare advocate and attitudes towards pain and pain mitigation practices in beef and dairy cattle in the United States by veterinarians and producers




Johnstone, Ellizabeth Charlotte Spencer, author
Edwards-Callaway, Lily, advisor
Pinedo, Pablo, committee member
Ahola, Jason, committee member
Stuart, Amy K., committee member

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Although leading veterinary organizations emphasize the importance of animal welfare knowledge, there exists a gap in current veterinary student animal welfare education and training. A survey instrument was created to assess third-year Doctor of Veterinary Medicine (DVM) student knowledge of key animal welfare topics, opinions regarding the inclusion of welfare education in the veterinary curriculum, and views on veterinarian responsibilities as advocates. In Spring 2018, Colorado State University added a required animal welfare course to the DVM curriculum. Pre- and post-course paper surveys were distributed to the third-year students enrolled in the animal welfare. One hundred thirty one completed pre-course surveys were collected and 125 completed post-course surveys were collected. Of the pre and post-course surveys collected, 61 were paired with identification codes and utilized for statistical comparison. Results indicated that the course led students to view the inclusion of an animal welfare course in the veterinary curriculum more favorably (p=0.009) and improved their confidence in conducting research on animal welfare topics (p<0.001). The course did not change students' sense of responsibility towards welfare advocacy. Associations were not found between attitudes towards these issues and demographic variables of home community, respondent gender, and track selection (p>0.06). Veterinarians were consistently ranked by students as the most influential member of a community in matters of animal welfare. Future research on the lack of veterinary student knowledge of animal welfare should be done on a national scale to facilitate strategic development of mandatory animal welfare courses in veterinary curricula. Future research should be designed to gain knowledge regarding DVM students' opinions and attitudes regarding effective methods of incorporating animal welfare education into their professional training. The objective of the second survey project was to evaluate the current pain management practices and opinions towards pain management in cattle of beef and dairy veterinarians and producers in the United States. Pain management strategies in livestock have evolved in the last few decades but a variety of obstacles continue to limit improvements in the use of pain mitigation by members of the cattle industries. One such obstacle is the lack of FDA-approved analgesic drugs for use in cattle in the United States which offers limited pain management options to cattle veterinarians and producers. An on-line survey was developed to investigate current use of pain mitigation by cattle veterinarians and producers. The survey was distributed electronically to multiple listservs in Summer 2018 (BEEF Magazine, American Association of Bovine Practitioners, National Milk Producers Federation Farmers Assuring Responsible Management evaluators, Dairy Moms and Dairy Girls Facebook groups; N=46,577). A total of 1,187 (2.5%) surveys were received; 41.9% of respondents identified as producers, 47.9% as veterinarians, and 10.2% as both. Multivariate logistic regression was used for analysis. Veterinarians (OR [95% CI] = 10.2 [7.21-14.4]) and producer-veterinarians (OR [95% CI] = 3.30 [2.02-5.39]) had significantly greater odds of using analgesia than producers in all cattle ages. Summary data suggest that analgesic use changed with cattle age; 57.6% of respondents used pain management in calves <2 months of age, while 71.6% of respondents used pain management in cattle more than 12 months of age. Respondents agreed that "cattle benefit from receiving analgesic drugs" (76.6%) and that "US/USDA/FDA regulations limit my ability to use analgesic drugs in cattle" (64.01%). Fifty-eight percent of respondents indicated their use of pain management had increased in the last 10 years. Data identify impediments to improving pain management practices in cattle. Results indicate the need for education and communication between veterinarians and producers on the necessity of pain management.


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veterinary student
pain management
animal welfare


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