Ohio StateUniversity is striving to become the premier university in the nation on animal welfare education.

The Department of Animal Sciences has teamed up with the University of Melbourne in Australia to incorporate animal welfare teaching modules into course curricula and establish training programs on the proper care and handling of farm and companion animals.

“We have the opportunity to gain expertise in the animal welfare arena by teaming up with one of the strongest centers of excellence in the world of animal welfare as it relates to education,” says James Kinder, chair of OSU’s Department of Animal Sciences.

A recent OhioStateUniversity survey of 1,800 Ohioans found that 92 percent agreed or strongly agreed that it is important that farm animals are well cared for, and 85 percent said that the quality of life for farm animals is important even when they are used for meat. Additionally, the survey revealed that 81 percent agreed that “the well-being of farm animals is just as important as the well-being of pets,” and 75 percent agreed, “farm animals should be protected from feeling physical pain.”

“Stewardship encompasses animal welfare, production efficiency, environmental concern and social awareness,” said Kinder. “The public and the food industry itself has become more aware of the responsibility of being a good steward of our food supply, and they demand that those in animal production be knowledgeable about those issues.”

Paul Hemsworth, a professor with the University of Melbourne and director of Australia’s Animal Welfare Science Centre, has led the charge for the past three years to help establish a range of animal welfare-related programs at OhioState.

“This is the first U.S. collaboration for us in regards to animal welfare,” says Hemsworth.

The Animal Welfare Science Centre is a joint organization with Australia’s University of Melbourne, MonashUniversity and the Department of Primary Industries, and is internationally recognized as a leading research and educational facility of animal welfare topics. Hemsworth is renowned for his successful development and implementation of animal welfare handling on Australian farms.

One scientific endeavor is the incorporation of animal welfare teaching modules into the animal sciences curriculum. Nine teaching modules, ranging from animal ethics to stress impact to proper animal welfare techniques of farm and companion animals have been developed and are awaiting approval to be included in future OhioState animal sciences courses.

Another aspect of the collaborative work is the development of training programs in Ohio’s swine and dairy industries.

“The programs target the behaviors and attitudes of people working in these industries and the effects they have on animal welfare,” says Hemsworth.

The computer-based training programs focus on key attitudes and behaviors centering on animal welfare and how changing those traits can improve an animal’s well-being and industry productivity.

Hemsworth says the training programs have seen success in Australia with three-fourths of participants showing an improvement in their attitudes and behavior within a month of completing the training.

Ohio StateUniversity