Marina von Keyserlingk and Daniel Weary win first Ruminant Well-being Award

Marina von Keyserlingk and Daniel Weary, University of British Columbia, Canada win the first Ruminant Well-being Award, worth €15,000. The award committee appreciated their fundamental contributions to cattle welfare over the course of 15 years of collaboration. The Ruminant Well-being Award is sponsored by Boehringer Ingelheim Animal Health and awarded by the World Association for Buiatrics (WAB).

Marina von Keyserlingk and Daniel Weary, winners of the Ruminant Well-being Award 2017At the occasion of the 2016 World Buiatrics Congress (WBC), Boehringer Ingelheim Animal Health and World Association for Buiatrics presented their inaugural Ruminant Well-being Award to two internationally recognised cattle welfare scientists, Marina von Keyserlingk and Daniel Weary, both of the University of British Columbia, Canada. They were presented with the award in recognition of their contribution to cattle welfare.

Dr von Keyserlingk and Dr Weary co-direct one of the world’s leading research programmes on cattle welfare, and over the course of 15 years of collaboration have made a series of fundamental contributions to this field. Their work has helped transform practices on dairy farms including the treatment of pain for dehorning and other procedures, changes in milk feeding and group housing practices for calves, and improvements in barn design and management that improve cow comfort and reduce the risk of lameness and injuries in mature cattle.

Xavier Manteca, Professor in Applied Ethology at the Autonomous University of Barcelona and chair of the award selection committee said: “We had a very difficult task selecting a winner among the large number of applications of outstanding quality. However, the jury agreed that, through research and training of many committed people, Marina and Daniel have made a most significant contribution to cattle welfare in North America and elsewhere. The selection committee valued the practical, innovative, high-quality research that both scientists have been conducting for many years.” 

Walter Baumgartner, president of the World Buiatrics Association, congratulated the laureates on their valuable contribution to Ruminant Well-being. “They have opened new ways of thinking about food producing animals; they have opened new ways of research.”

“As veterinarians, I believe we can improve in opening our ears and minds to what consumers or lay-people think about how animals should be raised. We should be open-minded to ask these questions and then build our answers on robust science.” He added: “Veterinarians should be the prime stakeholders in assuring animal welfare on their farms. I believe we can increase our efforts to play that role and we should communicate this to the outside world.”

Elke Abbeloos, veterinarian and Global Technical Manager for Cattle at Boehringer Ingelheim Animal Health, said: “Animal welfare is an essential component of sustainable livestock farming. With this award, we aim to raise awareness of the important role veterinarians can play in the continuous improvement of animal welfare in ruminants. It is also in line with our company’s long-term commitment to improving the health and well-being of farm animals.”

The Ruminant Well-being Award was presented at the congress in Dublin for the first time and represents a value of €15,000 plus an invitation to attend the World Buiatrics Congress where the Award Ceremony is held. Veterinarians with an interest in bovine/ruminant health from around the world meet at the WBC in alternate years. The next scheduled venue will be in Sapporo, Japan, in 2018.

The award is open to practising veterinary surgeons, researchers and graduate students in veterinary or animal science. It aims to recognise improvements in understanding and assessing pain or well-being in ruminants. The award is presented to laureates who have shown to have a real impact on ruminant welfare, a solid international outreach and an innovative approach to ruminant well-being.

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