Temple Grandin draws crowd to discuss improving animal welfare | TSLN.com

Temple Grandin draws crowd to discuss improving animal welfare

Alaina Mousel, Editor

World-renown livestock handling expert Temple Grandin drew a crowd of 800-plus students, faculty and community members to South Dakota State University campus on Wednesday, Feb. 9, to discuss ways to improve animal welfare.

Grandin, an animal science professor at Colorado State University, was named to the 2010 TIME Magazine list of 100 most influential people and had a self-titled film made in her honor.

She began her presentation by emphasizing the importance of calm animals. “We’ve got to quit yelling and screaming at cattle. It takes 20-30 minutes for an animal to calm down,” she told the audience. Much of the presentation consisted of snapshots of livestock moving through working facilities, pointing out design flaws and cattle nature.

“Even today, I’m having to take distractions out of cattle handling, be it a chain, a shadow or a reflection,” she said. To understand what distracts an animal, Grandin told the audience to get in the chute and see from the animal’s perspective.

If cattle balk, she said to “give the leader a chance to put their head down and walk forwards. A cow puts their head down to see depth.”

A few practical suggestions she told the audience includes: using skylights to lighten dark buildings; the importance of animals being able to see two animal lengths ahead in lead-up chutes and alleys; only filling crowd pens half full with livestock; and keeping dogs away from squeeze chutes.

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“If cattle constantly back up, you need to know why they are backing up,” she said, stating that people use too many backstops in alley designs.

Grandin spent some time explaining how an animal’s flight zone varies based upon how tame or wild the animal is. For example, an animal that has been shown in 4-H or other venues typically doesn’t have a flight zone. Animals also react differently to a man on a horse and a man by himself. “For a man on a horse, cattle can have a two-foot flight zone; a man alone and cattle can have a 20-foot flight zone.”

Non-slip flooring is a must, Grandin said, especially on scales, loading ramps and squeeze chutes. “When cattle slip, they start panicking,” she said.

To prevent cattle from panicking, Grandin suggested cattlemen move heifers through corrals once a day for three consecutive days, rewarding them with a treat afterwards. “When an animal voluntarily cooperates, you have a lot less stress,” she said. “Let’s make the corrals a good thing.”

World-renown livestock handling expert Temple Grandin drew a crowd of 800-plus students, faculty and community members to South Dakota State University campus on Wednesday, Feb. 9, to discuss ways to improve animal welfare.

Grandin, an animal science professor at Colorado State University, was named to the 2010 TIME Magazine list of 100 most influential people and had a self-titled film made in her honor.

She began her presentation by emphasizing the importance of calm animals. “We’ve got to quit yelling and screaming at cattle. It takes 20-30 minutes for an animal to calm down,” she told the audience. Much of the presentation consisted of snapshots of livestock moving through working facilities, pointing out design flaws and cattle nature.

“Even today, I’m having to take distractions out of cattle handling, be it a chain, a shadow or a reflection,” she said. To understand what distracts an animal, Grandin told the audience to get in the chute and see from the animal’s perspective.

If cattle balk, she said to “give the leader a chance to put their head down and walk forwards. A cow puts their head down to see depth.”

A few practical suggestions she told the audience includes: using skylights to lighten dark buildings; the importance of animals being able to see two animal lengths ahead in lead-up chutes and alleys; only filling crowd pens half full with livestock; and keeping dogs away from squeeze chutes.

“If cattle constantly back up, you need to know why they are backing up,” she said, stating that people use too many backstops in alley designs.

Grandin spent some time explaining how an animal’s flight zone varies based upon how tame or wild the animal is. For example, an animal that has been shown in 4-H or other venues typically doesn’t have a flight zone. Animals also react differently to a man on a horse and a man by himself. “For a man on a horse, cattle can have a two-foot flight zone; a man alone and cattle can have a 20-foot flight zone.”

Non-slip flooring is a must, Grandin said, especially on scales, loading ramps and squeeze chutes. “When cattle slip, they start panicking,” she said.

To prevent cattle from panicking, Grandin suggested cattlemen move heifers through corrals once a day for three consecutive days, rewarding them with a treat afterwards. “When an animal voluntarily cooperates, you have a lot less stress,” she said. “Let’s make the corrals a good thing.”

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