Daily Archives: January 15, 2014

Crikey Mate

Patty is kangaroo, link is emu and white bites are crocodile
Patty is kangaroo, link is emu and white bites are crocodile

Today I ate crocodile for the first time! It was actually good and actually tasted like chicken. I also ate emu and kangaroo but my favorite was the crocodile! Did you know that kangaroo is looked at as a pest here in Australia and usually people do not eat it?

After being completely exhausted from a full day of classes, (which I swore I would never go back to after high school) we went to the Queen Victoria’s Market in Melbourne. The market is amazing, there is nothing I can compare to back at home except maybe similar to Arts Fest at Penn State but not even close. The market is an everyday fresh market with food and restaurants. On Wednesday nights in the summer it turns into a festival party. Oh, did I mention it was summer here in Australia. It was 104 degrees today! Everyone was drinking, eating unique foods, listening to bands, and shopping.

Panoramic view of the market (sorry for the darkness).
Panoramic view of the market (sorry for the darkness).

I bought the cutest “balloon pants” for my twin nieces Drew and Elle.

Drew and Elle's Australian crafted balloon pants. #divas
Drew and Elle’s Australian crafted balloon pants. #divas

They are going to be almost 9 months old so these will be too big, but I can’t wait to put them in the pants; they are my mini me divas. I also bought hot sauce for my dad called “Chili Relish” by the company Hells Breath made in Australia. The ingredients are tomatoes, chillies (10%), malt vinegar, canola oil, spices, ginger, sugar, garlic and salt. I also bought a pocket watch necklace. It is really pretty and I thought it would be cool to represent Australia when I go home and the time zone difference I experienced. Last but not least, I had to eat some cookies and cream gelato, which was absolutely delicious!

Julie and me eating our gelato!
Julie and me eating our gelato!

Melbourne is such a wonderful city, and thus far I believe I rank it as either #1 or #2 (next to Florence, Italy). The Australian’s are simply amazing people. I have never met people so inviting and truly down to earth. When I bought something at the market today I would say “Thank you!” and they would reply “No worries.” and a genuine smile. Why can’t America be this way?

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Welfare Quality Assessment

Pig Welfare Assessment Protocol:

In the Animal Science 499D: Welfare of Agricultural and Recreational Animals course we have been hearing lectures on welfare about all different species. This topic has really struck my interest because it pertains to my future career and what I care about; the animals’ quality of life. 

Dr. Ellen Jongman from the University of Melbourne took us to the swine research facility and we did a “Pig Welfare Assessment Protocol” which are the guidelines that are being setup to assess animals on their welfare. I will go through the process just as someone at the research facility would do. 

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The 5 Animal-Based Welfare Indices:

  1. Injury Score
  2. Body Condition Score
  3. Lameness Score
  4. Fear of Humans
  5. Cleanliness

1. To assess the injuries on a pig we scored the wounds on the eight body regions: 1. Head, 2. Ears, 3. Shoulder section, 4. Central section, 5. Caudal section, 6. Tail, 7. Vulva, 8. Legs.  It was very easy to assess the pigs because they are used for research, so the university keeps the animals in top condition. 

2. Body Condition Scoring (BCS) is done by ensuring that the pig is standing, the visibility of the pig’s bones, and by inspecting and palpating the pig’s spine, hip and pin bones. The scores are between 1 and 5, 1 being emaciated, 3 being ideal, and 5 being overfat. 

3. Lameness is a measurement of the pig’s locomotion. A “Normal Gait”, making sure the pig can stand and walk around for more than 5 minutes is scored at a 0. A score of 1 is a “Lame/Irregular” gait meaning the pig has a difficult time walking and bearing weight on an affected limb. A score of 2 is the most extreme “Non-weight Bearing” score which explains itself, the pig cannot bear weight on an affected limb or more. 

4. Fear of humans is assessed by standing in front of the pen of the pig, making sure it is active, and putting a hand out towards it. If the pig is interested in the hand, licks it, smells it, etc. then it is not fearful of humans and receives a score of 0. If the pig avoids the hand then it is fearful and will get a score of 1. 

5. Cleanliness can be measured by the presence of manure on the body of the pig. Although the human perception of pigs are that they are messy, smelly, and roll in mud but this is not necasarily true. Pigs have an eliminated behavior in which they will eliminate their feces in a designated area, almost like cats eliminate in their litter box. 

The pigs at the research facility reminded me of my bull dog Stella. Every time I see Stella she wags her butt (since she doesn’t have a tail) and tries to jump up on me or her cage but she can’t because she is just too fat, and she also snorts. The pigs did the same thing and it made me miss my baby at home! 

Overall, the pig welfare assessment was a great hands-on way for us to understand how the industry is trying to move towards a better life quality for the pigs and how it is accomplished. Although in Australia there is not a specific person or company that does this at farms, they are working towards a set of guidelines for farms to follow and evaluate their animals. I hope to help animals in the future with their welfare and making a better quality of life for my pets and animals I care for.