On March 24, 2022, AFAC hosted a Technical Large Animal Emergency Response (TLAER) webinar to teach emergency responders more about equipment used during large animal rescues and how it can be adapted to different scenarios. Attendees of the event had the opportunity to learn from Dr. Rebecca Gimenez Husted, who is the owner of TLAER inc., and has over 25 years of experience instructing about large animal emergencies. Dr. Husted was joined by Victor MacPherson who has an extensive background in emergency care for both humans and animals, instructing, and fire and rescue.(more…)
March 16, 2022 (Calgary, AB) – The Livestock Care Conference kicked off this week with three engaging sessions on Tuesday. Starting with a highly interactive student workshop, our featured keynote speaker and rounding the afternoon off with three speakers from the agriculture ministries in British Columbia, Alberta, and Saskatchewan.
- Brad Andres, Director – Emergency Management Services, Alberta Agriculture, Forestry and Rural Economic Development,
- Graham Knox, Director – Climate Action and Emergency Management, (Ministry of Agriculture) Government of British Columbia
- Trent Catley, Director of Emergency Response and Inspection, Saskatchewan Ministry of Agriculture
These three speakers provided great insight into how their provinces are effectively implementing new strategies for emergency preparedness and response protocols. Discussing the importance of shelter in place plans, such as being able to be self-sufficient for up to 72 hours, and what that looks like in the event of an emergency, such as washed-out highways.
This session dove into the many facets that surround livestock emergencies, and how the provincial governments are working with farm/ranch owners to better communicate and handle emergencies. The importance of mass carcass disposal planning guides, relocation of livestock and even what to do during extreme weather events.
B.C. saw two extreme weather events this past year, the heat dome which helped to fuel summer wildfires and the mass rainfall and flooding last fall. Disasters like these show the incredible importance of collaboration between governments, emergency responders and farm/ranch owners.
Those who are interested in how each province addresses emergencies and what they are doing to further mitigate emergencies, predict them and respond quickly, can watch the recorded session through their conference link for up to three months.
(March 15, 2022) The first day of the 2022 Livestock Care Conference was a resounding success! Our keynote speaker Dr. Rebecca Gimenez Husted, owner of Technical Large Animal Rescue Inc., set the tone for the conference with a presentation about how the livestock industry can use the lessons learned from the COVID-19 pandemic and the B.C. floods to plan for future disasters.
“We know that the responsibility for the animals ultimately aligns with their owner, whether it’s a business or an individual,” said Dr. Husted. “So, people really need to start educating themselves and plan how they could handle things in the face of disaster.”
Dr. Husted explained that many people fail to plan until an actual disaster occurs. However, following the events of the past two years, the livestock industry has learned about the importance of planning and sharing information about emergency preparedness with each other.
Dr. Husted mentioned that individuals can prepare for future events by developing organized and devoted emergency efforts. These efforts can include attending local planning meetings, discussing emergency plans with fire chiefs, emergency managers and other community members, taking stock of critical infrastructure and creating biosecurity and safety measures.
“It does take effort. It does take realizing it could happen to you,” said Dr. Husted. “But we find that when people plan, it’s almost like a disaster is a non-disaster.”
Another lesson the livestock industry learned from the B.C. flood disaster was the importance of creating a variety of emergency plans. Dr. Husted mentioned that while some people had created a shelter in place plan during COVID-19, many did not have a plan for moving large animals in the event of a flood.
“That requires a lot of coordination with your local fire department, but it can be done and it has been done,” said Dr. Husted.
Throughout the session, Dr. Husted also talked about the importance of asking for help and using the internet to communicate with others during disasters to avoid personal and financial loss.
“The modern livestock person is connected,” said Dr. Husted. This is especially important in emergency situations because it can save the lives of humans and animals. “For example, many of the stranded farmers in B.C. were unreachable to the outside world and were basically on their own for several days or up to a week later.”
While mentioning the benefits of being connected during an emergency, Dr. Husted gave a nod to AFAC and Alberta’s Emergency Livestock Equipment Trailer program. With 19 trailers, Alberta is currently the most equipped province when it comes to livestock emergencies such as cattle liner rollovers and barn collapses.
“I’m really proud of the effort that your province has made to deal with not only livestock wrecks, but rescue situations where animals are in mud holes and things like that,” said Dr. Husted. “It really makes a difference, and it’s a huge part of emergency planning in Alberta.”
The main takeaways from Dr. Husted’s session were: prepare for emergencies by creating a variety of plans, share emergency plans, communicate with emergency managers and build a community of knowledgeable people to lean on in case of a livestock emergency.
If you missed this session and would like to watch it, a recording will be available for three months following the conference. We’re looking forward to hearing from more experts about PREP (prepare, respond, evaluate, progress) for Livestock Emergencies in the coming days!
March 17, 2022 (Calgary, AB) – Alberta Farm Animal Care (AFAC) is announcing Dr. Brenda Ralston, a livestock research scientist at Lakeland College in Vermilion, AB, as the recipient of the 2022 Award of Distinction. The annual Award of Distinction recognizes one individual or group who has made exceptional contributions to the field of livestock welfare, through either leadership, innovation or communication.
“Dr. Ralston’s dedication to Alberta’s livestock industry is inspiring,” said Nick Allan, president of Chinook Contract Research Inc. “Through her extensive and impressive research career, she has shown a personal and professional commitment to welfare and antimicrobial stewardship initiatives in the animal food production industry.”
Dr. Ralston began her 35-year career with Alberta Agriculture and Rural Development as a district agriculturist, moving to the role of beef specialist in 1994. During this time, she received her B.Sc. in Agriculture from the University of Alberta, M.Sc. in Veterinary Parasitology from the University of Calgary and a Ph.D. in Veterinary and Biomedical Sciences from Murdoch University in Perth, Western Australia. She is also a cattle producer and works with her family on their century farm, Twin Lakes Ranch.
Aside from her nomination from Lakeland College, AFAC received a number of other glowing recommendations from industry groups and fellow veterinarians. This is a testament to Dr. Ralston’s commitment to applied research and to her collaboration with private industry, producer groups, universities, government and most importantly the producers themselves. “Dr. Ralston’s research results in products producers can use to improve animal care practices. We can’t think of a more worthy candidate,” said Annemarie Pedersen, AFAC executive director.
Over her career, Dr. Ralston has supported and conducted multi-disciplinary livestock research for the poultry, dairy, lamb, horse and pork industries in the areas of pain control and pathogen mitigation. Most notably, she has helped bring livestock pharmaceuticals that address animal welfare issues related to management procedures to market, including:
- The Care-Ring anesthetic elastrator band to reduce the pain of castration.
- Oral Meloxicam for the beef, dairy and equine industries.
- An anti-bloat agent used to reduce animal discomfort when grazing alfalfa and enhance gains.
- Practical solutions to address antimicrobial resistance at the farm level for targeted selection of antibiotic groups for better animal outcomes and enhanced antibiotic stewardship.
One of her colleagues and nominators said it best. “As a result of her contributions, the way we think of pain in cattle has changed and now pain mitigation is common practice on farms and ranches across the province and the country,” said Dr. Denis Nagel.
For more information about the Award of Distinction, visit our website
On August 18, 2021, Alberta Farm Animal Care, in partnership with Alberta Pork Producers and Prairie Swine Health Services, hosted a Small-Scale Swine Webinar for individuals interested in small-scale pig farming. During the webinar, Dr. Kelsey Gray from Prairie Swine discussed various aspects of starting and operating a small-scale pig farm.
First, she discussed three Acts related to raising pigs which include the Animal Protection Act, the Alberta Water Act, and the Agricultural Practices Operations Act. These legislations are important to know for every small-scale pig farmer as they cover animal protection from abuse and neglect, water licensing, manure management, and finally deadstock management. Next on the list were the importance of traceability and having a PID (Premises Identification Number) for an operation. Dr. Gray outlined the various traceability programs in Canada and Alberta, including Alberta Traceability and PigTRACE, which is mandatory for all pork producers in Canada.
Dr. Gray then discussed the steps one should take when considering starting a small-scale pig operation. These steps include:(more…)