July 21, 2023
Stampede like a giant outdoor classroom for vet med students
Being a student at the University of Calgary Faculty of Veterinary Medicine (UCVM) provides students with the opportunity to attend an internationally recognized faculty for its innovative curriculum and community-based clinical education model, but it also provides students the potential to work at the Calgary Stampede for 10 days of cowboy fun.
Fourteen UCVM students hosted a booth this year on Stampede Grounds in the Agriculture Building, promoting the faculty, W.A. Ranches, calving techniques and so much more.
“The exposure I received during my shifts and the continued appreciation that I have for producers and the beef industry, has made me immensely proud of being a member of this profession,” says third-year UCVM vet med student Tara Malloy, who is also a summer program assistant with UCVM.
“My favourite part of being on grounds is seeing retired farmers with kids and showing them what they used to do, especially if their grandchildren or family members now live in the city. They wouldn’t have had that animal exposure before”.
Malloy hopes even more students will be interested in aiding at the booth next year, as it is an excellent way to engage with the community.
Do bulls like to perform?
Back on Stampede Grounds for the second year in a row was Dr. Ed Pajor, PhD, professor at UCVM, the Anderson-Chisholm Chair of Animal Behaviour and Welfare, the director of W.A. Ranches and a member of the Calgary Stampede’s Animal Care Advisory Panel.
This year he brought along two UCVM vet med students, one grad student and one faculty member to conduct research on animal welfare, specifically bulls.
Kirsten Glowa Kobe, Faculty of Veterinary Medicine
“We are starting to understand what the animals are experiencing while competing. Once the competition is done, there are lots of variations to how a bull reacts — some continue to buck, drag their cowboy, stand still — all are different,” says Pajor.
“Wouldn’t it be nice and safer, if the bulls could understand a cue to get back to their pens? Could this be done?”
They also worked on bull chute behaviour. Thirty per cent of bulls are fearful while waiting to compete. This does not seem to correlate to the way an animal performs or scores.
Pajor and his team tested 80-some bulls this year. He is also extremely grateful for his student team, as he couldn’t conduct his research without them.
“We created a safe and open space for learning. Nothing compares to hands-on training,” says Pajor.
While conducting research at the Stampede, Pajor and his team have made vital changes. One includes giving animals privacy before and after being loaded and handled. Extra visitors and guests used to watch the process, which caused elevated fear and anxiety for the animal.
Now in those spaces, tents exist. Water was also never given to a bull in the past after competing. Now water is always offered, and most of the animals do opt to drink. This allows optimal hydration.