Abstracts: Impacts of visitor number on kangaroos housed in free-range exhibits

Free range exhibits are becoming increasingly popular in zoos as a means to enhance interaction between visitors and animals. However very little research exists on the impacts of visitors on animal behaviour and stress in free range exhibits.

We investigated the effects of visitor number on the behaviour and stress physiology of Kangaroo Island (KI) Kangaroos, Macropus fuliginosus fuliginosus, and Red Kangaroos, Macropus rufus, housed in two free range exhibits in Australian zoos. Behavioural observations were conducted on individual kangaroos at each site using instantaneous scan sampling to record activity (e.g., vigilance, foraging, resting) and distance from the visitor pathway. Individually identifiable faecal samples were collected at the end of each study day and analysed for faecal glucocorticoid metabolite (FGM) concentration. Continue reading Abstracts: Impacts of visitor number on kangaroos housed in free-range exhibits

Overheated herds

This year’s higher than average summer temperatures have highlighted a growing animal welfare issue for the US livestock industry, and it is one that will prove equally relevant for Australia’s farmers as we head into warmer weather. Cattle prefer a cool climate, and suffer heat stress when they become too hot. If symptoms of the animals’ discomfort go unrecognised, a dairy cow’s milk production and fertility can be affected, while the result for intensively farmed beef cattle may be growth and weight loss, which leads to reduced meat production.

As some of the physiological responses to excessive heat are experienced internally by cows, and therefore less likely to be noticed until the animals are severely affected, livestock researchers from the University of Arizona, led by dairy specialist Robert Collier, have developed a vaginal sensor that can measure a cow’s core body temperature, and a leg sensor able to determine whether the cow had been sitting or standing. Continue reading Overheated herds

Essay: Veterinary practice 101

Veterinary Practice 101

There can surely be few more stressful episodes in a veterinary career than day one, first case.
In the thousands of alternative scenarios I had conjured up whilst lying in my little cot at the veterinary school not one was even remotely like the way my first case actually turned out…

Driving into the Thompson’s dairy farm there were no grateful, smiling farmers waving with relief, no music, no flags, just an uncaring laneway leading in. My dreams had lacked the hollow, empty sense of dread that fear and an overwhelming sensation of loneliness injected into that moment. I contemplated turning back at this point to tell my bosses that I had developed some incapacitating disease such as, say, malaria, and needed to start again some other day – any day – just not now. Instead, I drove in. Continue reading Essay: Veterinary practice 101

AVBA essay: Managing stress

It’s been one of those days… a morning filled with surgical cases then an afternoon crammed with consultations and as the day draws to a close there’s that difficult client who has you cornered. Over 20 years working in practice I witnessed many instances of stressed out vets and nurses, physically tired and emotionally overdrawn, leaving work for the day with nothing “left in the tank”.

Sound familiar? A high level of stress within caring professions almost appears to have become the norm. Study after study has shown that stress raises our risk of cancer, heart disease, allergies and susceptibility to colds and flu. New research has revealed that when our systems are constantly bathed in cortisol the body loses its ability to regulate inflammation.

Take charge! Stress management begins with identifying the sources of stress in your life. I agree, it isn’t as easy as it sounds but look closely at your habits and attitudes. Try to identify the regular stressors in your life and the way you deal with them. Take the same approach you would with a patient – detail the symptoms and construct a treatment plan. Consider how you cope with stress in your life. Are your coping strategies healthy or unhealthy? You could be unknowingly sabotaging yourself and compounding the problem. Continue reading AVBA essay: Managing stress

Survey of the frequency and perceived stressfulness of ethical dilemmas encountered in UK veterinary practice

The scale of the ethical challenges faced by veterinary surgeons and their perceived stressful consequences were investigated via a short questionnaire, completed by 58 practising veterinary surgeons.

Respondents were asked to report how frequently they faced ethical dilemmas, and to rate on a simple numerical scale (zero to 10) how stressful they found three common scenarios.

Fifty seven per cent of respondents reported that they faced one to two dilemmas per week, while 34 per cent stated they typically faced three to five dilemmas per week. Continue reading Survey of the frequency and perceived stressfulness of ethical dilemmas encountered in UK veterinary practice