There have been some questions and related discussions about a presentation given by the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) at the National 4-H Conference in Washington DC on March 23, 2010. The session was entitled "Animal Instincts: Service Learning and Animal Welfare" and was one of fifteen small-group sessions at the Conference.
The HSUS has an agenda that is very negative to the livestock industry. For them to be a part of the Conference was a poor decision. However, the issue has people reviewing and sharing the Iowa 4-H Animal Welfare Policy document quoted below.
"Animal welfare and animal rights issues span an entire spectrum of opinions. Beliefs are founded in religious teachings, personal experiences, societal customs and economical evaluations. There is also much diversity of emotions, along with actions and reactions to animal rights and animal welfare issues.
The Iowa 4-H program believes that the role of animals is a source of food, fiber and nutrition, as well as a tool used by young people to develop life skills. 4-H believes that providing young people with hands-on opportunities to study and work with livestock creates a greater understanding of the animal's health and well being. 4-H does not condone or tolerate abuse or mistreatment of animals in any form during activities programs or competitions.
The ISU Extension Animal Welfare policy, developed in the fall of 1990, still applies today. The policy reads as follows:
The practice of enabling youth to randomly capture animals from a group in a contest or prize-winning situation should be eliminated from all Iowa extension programs. Extension staff shall not plan, promote or support such activities.
Such activities include but are not limited to greased pigs contests, catch the chicken, calf scrambles or other similar uses of animals for entertainment."
For exhibiting livestock at the upcoming county fairs, the following guidelines should be helpful to 4-H and FFA members in preventing any misconceptions that the public may have about the way livestock is raised.
* Provide fresh, clean water to all animals at all times.
* Keep your pens clean and dry with good bedding at all times.
* Be aware of animal comfort zones i.e. temperature, space.
* Sort and load animals safely and with concern for them.
* Train animals to lead or be handled at a young age, making them more manageable at the fair.
* Arrange for veterinary care in case of an animal emergency.
* Handle animals in a very humane way.
* Adhere to all antibiotic, drug, and water or feed additive withdrawal times.
* Animals should be fed on a routine basis.
* Avoid stressing the animal.
* Keep animals clean.
* Use show sticks and canes for showing only and use them as gently as possible.
Livestock is important to Iowa's economy. The Iowa 4-H Food Safety Quality Assurance (FSQA) training program takes a proactive approach to educate 4-H and FFA members on their responsibilities relating to animal care and welfare as they participate in animal agriculture production.
If you or another young person is interested in 4-H, please call our office at 225-6196. You can call if you have any questions about this article. Plan to come to our Cherokee County Fair July 8-11, 2010. You can see some talented youth from this county and their very special animals.