Animal “Stressless” Experience: Here’s what you need to know.

The University of Portsmouth’s Students’ Union annually holds the “Stressless Farm
Experience”. Located at Gun House Green behind the Union on Wednesday 21st March,
staff and students will be able to visit a variety of farm animals such as turkeys, ducks,
rabbits and pigs, provided by Mill Cottage Farm intended as a way for students to help
manage with exam and general stresses typical around this time of academic year.

Last year it caused particular controversy as the Union and Mill Cottage Farm were
labelled guilty of exploiting the welfare of the farm animals. For some, this “stressless”
campaign may seem harmless as the animals are fed and watered, and it is ensured they are in
a fit state to attend the events. Nevertheless, although it can be fun for students, it comes at
the cost of the animal’s welfare — before, during and after the campaign will take place.

Mill Cottage Farm have previously been targeted by local animal rights activists groups for various acts and mistreatments that
appeared to cause harm towards the animals at the campaign last year. Firstly, a large
cause of concern was the inbreeding of animals and their violation of the RSPCA’s and
the British Veterinary Association’s advice to keep apart rabbits and guinea pigs. This was to avoid injuries
or fatalities that the animals could inflict on one another. Furthermore, it was found that the
animals had little space and shelter to protect them for long periods of time and some did not
have food or water available to them even though it was warm and sunny.

Local animal activists attended this event to peacefully protest by handing out educational
leaflets and to question some of the practices Mill Cottage Farm adopted. They found
that two of the turkeys displayed abnormal behaviours that indicate stress such as pacing
back and forth. It was also found that the goats who were only a few weeks old had been
dehorned for the purpose of protecting the safety of those attending the event in order to
reduce injury if the goat tried to headbutt people.

The disputation developed as an officer from the RSPCA was called and agreed with local animal rights activists groups that
this event was deemed unsuitable for the animals with a large number of people attending. A
shocking fact that many people were unaware of is that some of these animals were planned
to be sent to slaughter which Mill Cottage Farm failed to declare, despite priding themselves
on educating people on where their food comes from on their website.

On top of all of this, the animals are subject to constant noise and touching for a long
amount of time which can provoke distress — unintentional or not. It is disappointing that there
is a lot of focus on the petting experience as a successful method of helping students reduce
their stress when there are many other techniques and approaches that are more beneficial in
the long run.

Here’s what you can do to ensure that your welfare and the animals welfare are not put at
risk during this event:

1) Don’t attend the event! Tell others why you are against this and educate people
about why this event is harmful as well as educate others on better ways to deal with
stress.
2)Write to the Students’ Union President to share your concerns in writing addressed to:

The President University of Portsmouth Students’ Union
Unit 4 Cambridge Road
Portsmouth
PO12EF

3)The Union also has a democratic framework to empower student ideas. Should any current student wish to submit an idea in relation to this event please do so using the form found at https://hys.upsu.net/.

4) Educate yourself on ways to help manage your stresses and anxieties, regardless of
what form they take. Check out www.upsu.net/stressless to discover more stressless
tips. Alternatively, the university has a Student Wellbeing Service who offer a variety
of services for staff and students who feel they need extra support to help them with
any issues they may have. Details can be found here:
https://kb.myport.ac.uk/Article/Index/12/4?id=2294

Quick access to support services:
The Student Wellbeing Service
– Email: wellbeing@port.ac.uk
– Telephone: 023 9284 3466
– Location: Nuffield Centre, Ground Floor, Student Advice Services Reception, St Michael’s Road,
Portsmouth,
PO1 2ED

Opening hours
– 08:30 – 17:00 Monday-Thursday
– 08:30 – 16:00 on Friday

Details in this article come from: https://www.portsmouth.co.uk/our-region/portsmouth/protesters-criticise-animals-treatment-at-university-union-petting-zoo-event-1-7969751


The UPSU response:

Comment from UPSU

The Students’ Union would like the author to acknowledge that the concerns arise from a small number of online commentators and University of Portsmouth students. The same event in previous years has been very popular with students and other visitors’ and is very calm and peaceful and the amount of petting is limited. The Union’s partners Mill Cottage Farm Experience are experts in ensuring the the welfare of the animals at the even. Comments from students who have attended these events help to backup this statement.

The Students’ Union can confirm a RSPCA representative visited the premise at  the end of the event held in 2017 and consulted with the staff of Mill Cottage Farm Experience. It was communicated to Mill Cottage Farm staff that there was no issue with the welfare provision for the animals at the event. No complaint was received by UPSU  from the RSPCA or any other recognised body following the event.

The Students’ Union encourages any parties with concerns to engage with the following:

Write to the Students’ Union President to share your concerns in writing addressed to:

The President University of Portsmouth Students’ Union
Unit 4 Cambridge Road
Portsmouth
PO12EF

The Union also has a democratic framework to empower student ideas. Should any current student wish to submit an idea in relation to this event please do so using the form found at https://hys.upsu.net/.


Our writer, Hayley Turner-McIntyre’s response, to UPSU

“I fully understand that it is neither Mill Cottage Farm’s nor The Union’s intentions to put any bodies at harm and as mentioned, the event has received positive feedback from those who attended the event last year. Nevertheless, it can be argued that not all students had the knowledge of the kind of stressful behaviours the animals displayed and if made aware, the students may have been less happy about the event being held initially. I believe that Mill Cottage Farm and The Union should be held accountable for educating the students more about animal welfare and fully disclose the way the animals are treated at the farm and at the event so that students can make a fully informed decision about their choices to attend or discourage attendance such events in the future”

 

Be the first to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.