Animal Husbandry Panel Held During Brown County Fair
For Immediate Release
P.O. Box 1388, 1410 Dakota S.,
Huron, S.D. 57350
August 15, 2013
Ph: (605) 352-6761, Fax: (605) 352-6768
Contact: Chris Studer - SDFU Communications
605-352-6761 Ext. 122 605-350-4170
ABERDEEN — Experts in livestock handling practices spoke Wednesday during a panel discussion at the Brown County Fair in Aberdeen about South Dakota’s laws concerning animal husbandry and practices in the state. The discussion was hosted by South Dakota Farmers Union. Panelists included South Dakota’s state veterinarian Dr. Dustin Oedekoven, Courtney De La Rosa with the South Dakota Department of Agriculture, and South Dakota Farmers Union’s legislative director Mike Traxinger.
“One of the main issues we’re tasked with is dealing with animal abuse complaints in livestock,” said Dr. Oedekoven, who leads the state’s Animal Industry Board. “The importance of livestock production in South Dakota is undeniable. We’re fortunate in South Dakota because most people in the state want to care for their animals correctly. The vast majority of people in South Dakota are very good about caring for their animals.”
Traxinger said South Dakota farmers and ranchers have a financial stake in the condition of their animals and work hard to make sure their animals are cared for properly. “In South Dakota we want to take good care of our animals,” Traxinger said. “It’s our life and our livelihood and it’s something that is beneficial to us economically.”
Even though the majority of farmers and ranchers use the proper care when managing livestock, there are some who don’t treat their animals as they should. Oedekoven said his office receives between 100 to 130 animal abuse or neglect complaints per year. The Animal Industry Board sends a veterinarian to investigate the complaints. As much as 90 percent of the time they find no evidence of neglect, Oedekoven said, and if they do find neglect the veterinarian works with the owner to educate them about best practices and that usually takes care of the situation. About 70 percent of the complaints are about horses, and usually come from urban areas. “They tend to be neighbor issues or complaints from people not familiar with the agricultural process,” Dr. Oedekoven said.
“This is an issue that the South Dakota Department of Agriculture has taken very seriously and has dedicated a lot of time and effort into educating producers about animal husbandry practices,” De La Rosa said. “We in South Dakota take a very common sense approach to animal husbandry practices.”
South Dakota last made major revisions to its animal husbandry and animal abuse laws in the 1990s. “Those laws continue to serve us well today,” Dr. Oedekoven said.
De La Rosa said South Dakota producers have an advantage over other parts of the country because of education programs that help young people learn how to property care for livestock.
“It’s the people,” De La Rosa said. “It’s because of programs like 4-H and FFA. It’s instilled in our young people early on, how to take care of their animals.”
Oedekoven encouraged livestock producers to tell people about how they care for their animals so the public can learn about what producers do on a daily basis.
“The more we can bring the public out to the farm, safely, and you can showcase what you’re doing on the farm is beneficial. Show them that you’re providing a safe, wholesome food supply,” Oedekoven said. “It’s about being proud of what you do and educating those around you about what you’re doing.”