What is in this article?:
Rodeos put animal health and welfare in front of fans. How rodeo has used veterinary information to prepare for—and respond to—a range of questions can be an example for the beef industry.
Honest Answers for Ongoing Respect
The general public may never see a grazing heifer with a case of pinkeye or other common issues livestock producers face. When an animal is injured during steer wrestling, on the other hand, hundreds may be in the crowd.
Dr. Corey says there are no tricks of the trade to dealing with hard questions, just truthful honest answers. “Whenever something happens, you need to tell the truth,” Dr. Corey advises. “If an injury happens, we write a press release and put it right out there, but we also talk about the low injury rates in the sport overall.”
On-site veterinarians and judges keep a close eye on the injury rate at rodeos, which has averaged .0005 in all participating stock in all disciplines of PRCA competitions. The attention to animal husbandry by stock contractors and trained eye of veterinarians helps prepare the rodeos for the best outcome possible. On-site and immediate communication is one way to prepare for, and prevent, miscommunication. Taking that information to social media is a tactic the PRCA uses to make sure the information spreads as far as possible.
In fact, the PRCA uses a variety of electronic communication to communicate directly with almost 600 local rodeo committees, says Cindy Schonholtz, Director of Industry Outreach at the PRCA, which is headquartered in Colorado Springs, Colo. “Now social media and e-mail action are really important in communicating,” Schonholtz says. “We have monthly e-mails concerning disease outbreaks and educational materials that are available."
When communicating about rodeo or the livestock to anyone unfamiliar with the industries, Schonholtz recommends assessing the audience’s level of knowledge.
For instance, using rodeo slang may not be appropriate in all instances and the speaker must be aware of the experience of each person involved in the conversation. Veterinarians, she says, often prefer to discuss questions with another veterinarian for peer-to-peer conversations.
Communicating with the public or veterinarians is one thing, but dealing with the government is an area where a veterinarian’s expertise and credibility are critical, Schonholtz says. Dealing with the government is a necessity for anyone transporting animals across state lines, and the communication becomes more important during a disease outbreak like the equine herpesvirus-1 (EHV-1) outbreak that occurred last summer.
“The EHV-1 outbreak was peak rodeo season,” Schonholtz recalls. “Without veterinarians on-site, I don’t know if we could have gone on. Vets keep an eye out and have a plan with state animal health issues. Luckily, we didn’t have to cancel any events.”