New Training Program Designed to Improve Accuracy of Pig Care Assessments

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Farmscape for September 20, 2021

Full Interview 9:13 Listen

Researchers with the Western College of Veterinary Medicine have developed a new training program designed to improve the accuracy and consistency of pig care assessments. In partnership with the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council, the University of Saskatchewan and pork sector stakeholders, researchers with the Western College of Veterinary Medicine have created a systematic and robust training program, based on studies carried out in cattle assessments, to expand the knowledge base of observers and improve the accuracy of data collected. Dr. Giuliana Miguel Pacheco, a Doctor of Veterinary Medicine and a Post-Doctoral Research Fellow in the Department of Large Animal Clinical Sciences, explains these assessments are used to identify issues and provide feedback to producers for continued improvement.

Clip-Dr. Giuliana Miguel Pacheco-Western College of Veterinary Medicine:
The key challenges assessors may face are level of pig knowledge so, among the assessors we train we had pig naive and experienced assessors. We noticed that some indicators were missed or overrated by the naive eye for example. The other challenge faced is level of experience, so understand the expectations of the assessment is important. For example, some people are more detail orientated, providing notes if needed so we need to make sure everybody knows what is expected from a particular animal care assessment. Then we have the personal biases. The implications could be that the data is not valid or robust, meaning that the advice provided about the condition of the animals may not be useful to the farmer and, if this is part of an assurance scheme, this is a risk as the farm could be flagged with problems that were not accurately measured.

Dr. Miguel Pacheco says improving the accuracy and consistency of the data is extremely important so producers can make adequate animal care improvements. She is confident the methodology of this training program could be applied and modified to accommodate any other animal care assessment, to train and assess farmers, barn staff and assurance scheme assessors.

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