By: Blair Fannin, Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Services
Veterinarians and animal health representatives from across Texas recently gathered at Texas A&M University’s O.D. Butler Jr. Animal Science Complex in College Station to discuss issues involving show animals and exhibitors.
The daylong event was sponsored by the Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service and department of animal science at Texas A&M.
"The purpose of this meeting is to start dialogue with practicing vets about unique challenges facing exhibitors and show market animals," said Dr. Ron Gill, AgriLife Extension Service beef cattle specialist, College Station. "There are some unique challenges with animals going straight from the home environment to the show and they may need special medical treatment at the show.
"Because of zero-tolerance policies for any kind of residue from approved drugs or any kind of pharmaceutical product, veterinarians need to be able to communicate that to the families at home when asked for consultation. They then have to make a decision that the animal can be treated and be shown, or be treated and left at home."
The program featured several speakers throughout the day. Allyson Tjoelker, executive director of agricultural exhibits with the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo, provided a livestock show perspective on animal health. Dr. Davey Griffin, AgriLife Extension meat specialist, College Station, discussed carcass residues. Dr. Gary Warner, Elgin Veterinary Hospital, provided a presentation on treating show cattle. Dr. Steve Kennedy, Muleshoe Animal Clinic, discussed treating show swine, and Dr. William Edmiston of Eldorado Veterinary Clinic, discussed treating small ruminants.
The afternoon session also featured a panel discussion on several topics presented throughout the day.
"Livestock shows are critical events for our youth," said Dr. Russell Cross, head of the Department of Animal Science at Texas A&M. "Those animals coming through the shows basically become food. We need to make sure we are following all of the rules and also consider what is best for the animal."
Many attendees said the meeting was the first of its kind bringing together veterinarians and academic professionals to discuss show-animal health.
"This was a really good meeting," Kennedy said. "Some (of these) points needed to be discussed to try to create some uniformity in the industry and among veterinarians in addressing some of the issues there and protecting the show animal industry."
Warner, whose presentation included an overview on treating show cattle and discussion of technical points on structural soundness of cattle said: "Structural soundness goes to the well-being of the animal."
"We need to make sure cattle are sound when calves are purchased so we we have a better guarantee that they are going to be functional as individuals at the end point which is hopefully going to one of the major livestock shows," he said. "I think helping everybody understand the issues we are presented, with particularly as a referral hospital, they can carry that message on to the buying public and the people that get these projects started to help them better understand what they need to be looking for."
Organizers said interest and attendance was high, leading to possible future meetings to discuss other issues affecting show animals across Texas.