Patrick Todd MVM completed December 2018

Patrick Todd chose Massey University to study factors affecting the welfare of farm animals.

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1. Why did you choose the MVM?

It met the three criteria that I considered essential to making such a commitment. I work full time for MPI Verification Services so the course had to be distance learning. I had a specific bobby calf animal welfare study I wanted to complete so the option to include a 60 credit dissertation study was ideal. To make such a commitment in terms of time and to justify the financial support of MPI the courses offered needed to be relevant to my Verification Services responsibilities. The papers in Calf Management, Dairy cattle nutrition, Lameness in cattle and Introduction to Epidemiology all contributed to a more in depth understanding of factors affecting the welfare of farm animals and dairy cattle in particular.

2. How long after graduation did you do the MVM (and why so soon after graduation)?

I am a slow learner and I completed my MVM 40 years after my BVSc. This was challenging at times but with all the papers I completed the lecturers quickly got us students engaged and supporting one another so that it didn’t take long to develop systems for managing the workload. The interaction with students from overseas was particularly stimulating as was the opportunity to catch up with NZ students at the contact courses. The contact courses were an ideal opportunity to consolidate professional relationships developed during the course with both students and lecturers. My MVM dissertation supervisor went far beyond what I expected in terms of supporting and encouraging me while completing my study.

3. What have you got out of the MVM?

The most important outcome for me was that I was able to complete the study into bobby calf transport that I had wanted to do for several years and that I gained the confidence to continue to investigate issues around the transport of young calves. I hope that in time this work will contribute to improvements in AW Codes and Regulations around calf transport.

Completing the MVM has also connected me with lecturers at Massey that I feel comfortable asking for guidance and suggestions about the work that I do.

4. How has the MVM affected your future career?

The MVM has given me the opportunity to engage with wider MPI about animal welfare issues. This has added a new “dimension” to the scope of work as a veterinary technical supervisor at an export meat plant where the core role is verification of the company control of their Risk Management Plans and to provide official assurances (certification) for product exported to a range of overseas markets. The standard of animal welfare of production animals is increasing rapidly in importance as a market access requirement so there may be an opportunity to include animal welfare papers within the MVM programme to complement the epidemiology papers.

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