Temple Grandin shares input on new South Dakota State University cow-calf unit
February 24, 2011
World-renown livestock handling expert Temple Grandin reviewed plans for South Dakota State University’s new cow-calf unit during her campus visit on Wednesday, Feb. 9. Due to Grandin’s tight schedule, she was only able to spend about 45 minutes reviewing the plans, according to Sara Winterholler, SDSU assistant professor of beef production supervising the project.
“We could have used Temple for an entire afternoon,” Winterholler said. “A couple of our designs had sharp corners; she was quick to eliminate those.”
From the moment Grandin entered the meeting room and laid eyes on the design plans, she couldn’t tear her eyes away, recounted Clink Rusk, head of SDSU’s Animal and Range Science department.
The cow-calf unit design is being assembled by a team of seniors in agricultural engineering as part of their senior design project, along with agricultural engineering faculty, an engineer from USDA-NRCS and animal science faculty. Final plans are expected in early April; with ground being broke this summer.
In reviewing the designs, Grandin stressed the concept that cattle naturally want to return to where they came from, pointing out the “snake concept” of her alley design being an extremely important component of handling facilities. Find more of her designs at http://www.grandin.com.
One useful suggestion Grandin shared with the group was the idea of installing white translucent plastic in the area cattle enter the processing facility to provide-shadow free light.
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Grandin also voiced her strong liking of sliding gates throughout the alley system, as opposed to manual “stoppers” that create noise and that cattle have to push their way through.
“We learned that we will need more space than originally allotted if we choose to implement one of Temple’s designs,” Winterholler said. “All of Temple’s designs require custom building; she suggested we have a separate alley for calves as opposed to an adjustable alley.”
Located near Volga, SD, the facility will be approximately 10 miles west and north of the Brookings campus. Plans include drylot pens, replicated pastures for grazing projects and state-of-the-art working facilities designed to be used for cattle handling demonstrations and functional working facilities. The main building will include a conference center and working facilities. In addition, the design team has worked closely with NRCS to develop nutrient management plans for demonstration purposes which also allows multiple-disciplinary research to be conducted.