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Hot-button veterinary topics from AVMA meeting
Antimicrobial ban doesn't garner enough votes to reach the floor, but DVMs couldn't stop talking about it

Volume 39, Issue 8

Delegates OKresolution supporting room for movement in veal calves' housing

The American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) House of Delegates adopted a policy regarding veal calf housing that promotes animal health and welfare.

Resolution 16, accepted by 88.7 percent of the delegates, states that the AVMA supports a change from veal-husbandry systems that "severely restrict movement" to housing that allows "greater freedom of movement without compromising health or welfare."

AVMA Executive Vice President Dr. Ron DeHaven says the resolution seeks to improve the welfare of veal calves, while affording the AVMA Animal Welfare Division the opportunity to conduct "a comprehensive analysis of the science to consider all relevant perspectives of veal calf production."

If the issue of whether to discuss the use of antimicrobials was contentious, voting on a resolution to change veal-husbandry practices was equally so.

Resolution 14 called for the AVMA to support a change from the individual calf crate system to group housing systems that allow for freedom of movement and socialization.

Resolution 16 called for the AVMA to support a change in veal-husbandry practices that severely restrict movement to housing systems that allow for greater freedom of movement without compromising their health.

"How much longer are we going to be viewed as slow to act and not contemporary?" Massachusetts veterinarian John de Jong asked his peers.

He urged veterinarians to vote down Resolution 14 in favor of Resolution 16.

"We can leave here doing one of two things," de Jong said. "We can unnecessarily delay and refer it back to committee, potentially looking ineffectual, or we can proceed with action and still allow the Animal Welfare Division to study the issue."

Oregon veterinarian Dr. Martha DeWees opposed the issue, saying it should be a part of AVMA's overall animal-welfare policy and the House of Delegates shouldn't "micro-manage" every animal-housing issue.

"If we did, where would it stop?" she asked.

In the end, Resolution 14 was referred to the Animal Welfare Division by a vote of 64.3 percent to 35.7 percent.

Resolution 16 was amended to include "or welfare" at the end and was approved 88.7 percent to 31.3 percent.

Dr. Gail Golab, associate director of the Animal Welfare Division, started her examination of the issue last fall.

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