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Virginia Cooperative Extension -
 Knowledge for the CommonWealth

1999 Animal Industry Day To Focus On Animal
Behavior and the Care and Management of Livestock

Livestock Update, June 1999

L. A. Lawrence, Extension Animal Scientist, Horses, Virginia Tech

The 36th Annual Animal Industry Day is scheduled to be held on Friday, July 9, 1999, at the Virginia Tech Livestock Center on the campus of Virginia Tech. While the Animal Industry Day serves as a homecoming for Ag Alumni, farmers, and industry professionals, its real goal is to bring academia and the industry together to discuss current issues, problems and new technology. The 1998 Animal Industry Day was one of the most successful in years, bringing almost 1,500 people to campus.

The program kicks off with registration at 8:30 - 9:30 am. We hope you will use this time to visit over 30 commercial and educational exhibits on display. Dr. Gary Minish will moderate the morning session. He will introduce Dr. Andy Swiger, dean of the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, who will briefly highlight new developments in how the College is designed to serve Virginia agriculture. Dr. Ike Eller, professor emeritus, will update the audience on progress on the proposed Livestock Teaching Arena.

In a highly politicized society emotional issues surface and national opinions sway in the moment of a sound bite. The tradition, economic impact and very survival of the livestock industry is subject to the popular political opinion of a misinformed public. Animal welfare, animal rights, animal research and accusations of cruelty are the issues of the next millenium that could change a way of life for rural America.

Livestock producers and horse owners usually believe they are diligent in their care of their animals. However, there are often wide differences in what each individual perceives as "acceptable." Examining our handling and care techniques from the perspective of animal physiology and behavior empowers the industry to defend itself. In every case, the best way to handle animals incorporates instinctive behaviors to reduce stress.

The 1999 Animal Industry Day Keynote Speaker is Dr. Temple Grandin. Dr. Grandin's keynote address will be "Understanding Animal Behavior." Dr. Grandin is an animal behavior specialist and a designer of livestock handling facilities and an assistant professor of Animal Sciences at Colorado State University. Facilities she has designed are located in the United States, Canada, Europe, Mexico, Australia, New Zealand, and other countries. In North America, almost half of the cattle are handled in a center track restrainer system that she designed for meat plants.

She obtained her M.S. in Animal Science at Arizona State University. Dr. Grandin received her Ph.D. in Animal Science from the University of Illinois. Today she teaches courses on livestock behavior and facility design, livestock handling, and animal welfare. She has appeared on television shows such as 20/20, 48 Hours, CNN, Larry King Live, and has been featured in People Magazine, The New York Times, Forbes, and U.S. News and World Report. She has also authored over 300 articles in both scientific journals and livestock periodicals on animal handling, welfare, and facility design.

Dr. Grandin points out that continuing domestication of animals is a complex process which has innumerable impacts on animal behavior. She will discuss instincts and behavioral genetics and their practical applications.

Dr. Grandin will focus on cattle and horses. The horse section will address "How to Think Like A Horse and Using This Information to Assist Training."

Dr. Grandin has been the subject of books and has written books about her struggle with autism. Her autobiographical book, Thinking in Pictures, reveals some profound mysteries of autism and details how her ability to think in pictures, much like animals, has given her a unique perspective on behavior.

Dr. Jim Knight and Dr. William Velander will be discussing "Human Pharmaceuticals from Pigs." These researches have produced transgenic pigs that express therapeutic proteins critical in blood clotting and anti-clotting in humans. These proteins can be lifesavers for hemophiliacs These transgenic animal bioreactors are efficient and safe ways of obtaining therapeutic proteins that treat numerous life-threatening diseases. Pigs have the potential to secrete large quantities of these proteins in the milk. Milk may be obtained without harming the sows and the proteins have no ill effects on the piglets.

The Virginia Cattle Industry Board, the Virginia Poultry Federation, and the Virginia Pork industry Board are sponsoring a complimentary beef, pork, and chicken barbecue at noon.

During lunch, hold onto your barbecue! Doug Meadows, from Lenoir City, Tennessee, will be demonstrating and talking about the hard running, deep sliding, dirt throwing reining horse. Doug has presented clinics throughout the country. He trained numerous state, regional, and national champions in reining, working cow horse, and western pleasure. While reining and dressage may seem to be dramatically different, the basic movements are in many ways very similar.

The afternoon horse program also spotlights Marat and Janna Bakharmov of Dark Horse Stables, Inc. from Boyce. They will be demonstrating the high school of training at its best with a Grand Prix "Pas De Deux." This pairs performance will mirror the intricate balance and beauty of dressage.

The afternoon Beef Program begins at 1:00 pm. Bill McKinnon, Scott Greiner, and John Hall will introduce the three part interactive Beef Quality Assurance Workshop. This workshop will zero in on three critical goals: 1) proper management enhances beef quality and product value; 2) target breeding equals customer satisfaction; and 3) responsible culling improves herd productivity and efficiency.

Dr. Joe Fontenot, a pioneer in forage systems for beef production, will instruct farmers on what works best for the Appalachian. Dr. John Hall, Extension Beef Specialist, will discuss the advantages and disadvantages of new estrous synchronization systems.

The sheep program will focus on turning cutting edge farm flock management principles into routine practices. Dr. Greg Lewis will discuss reproductive management and technology and make is "user-friendly" for producers. Dr. Dave Notter, nationally recognized sheep geneticist, makes genetic management simple with his presentation. Dr. Mark Wahlberg will tackle the timely issue of nutrient management cycles.

The afternoon sessions will adjourn at 3:00 pm. For further information, contact Dr. Dan Eversole, (540) 231-4738.

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