Pairis-Garcia Earns AFRI Grant

July 3, 2018

Dr. Monique Pairis-Garcia, assistant professor, received a $497,500 Agriculture and Food Research Initiative (AFRI) grant. She is the primary investigator for the project “Timely On-Farm Euthanasia of Cattle: Exploring Caretaker Decision-Making and Training Methods.”

“We are not conducting a traditional experiment with a treatment and a control group but working directly with producers to identify the challenges that are occurring on-farm in regards to euthanasia,” said Pairis-Garcia. “In addition, we are developing training tools [educational materials] to help both new and experienced caretakers make the best decisions for the cow.”

The grant falls under the AFRI’s “Animal Well-Being” program area. Dr. Kathryn Proudfoot (Department of Veterinary Preventative Medicine), Dr. Alia Dietsch (School of Environmental & Natural Resources), and Dr. Jan Shearer (Iowa State University, College of Veterinary Medicine) join Pairis-Garcia on the project.

Below is Pairis-Garcia’s summary for the project.

Since 1999, more than 20 undercover videos have been taken in commercial dairy facilities throughout the United States. Undercover videos are a tool utilized by animal activist groups to disparage modern agricultural practices and expose cases of abuse and neglect. Although most of what is presented on these videos are taken out of context, one area of concern to the industry is the identification of compromised animals that failed to receive appropriate treatment and require euthanasia. This issue is not unique to the dairy industry, and in fact, there has been much public scrutiny on the methods, performance and decision-making process of euthanasia in the entire livestock industry.  Euthanasia is a necessary act for any operation keeping live animals and the euthanasia method used should be humane, practical, economical, and socially acceptable. Currently, information is deficient for training employees on timely and humane euthanasia decisions that are standard across the dairy industry. This proposed project will benefit dairy producers by identifying quantitative and qualitative decision criteria for on-farm euthanasia of dairy cattle through use of a national survey. In addition, identifying barriers to euthanasia on-farm will be addressed utilizing focus groups in Spanish and English and include assessing the effect of caretaker training, farm culture and attitudes on the euthanasia decision making process. Lastly, this project will culminate with the development of an innovative and interactive educational tool for on-farm euthanasia of dairy cattle. This proposal directly meets the methods of humane slaughter or on-farm euthanasia program area priority