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Ground-Breaking News

By   /  May 5, 2014  /  Comments Off on Ground-Breaking News

Thanks to stockmanship experts and authors Whit Hibbard and Dr. Lynn Locatelli, On Pasture readers are getting a look at ground-breaking analysis of animal behavior, and will likely shake up some old patterns of thinking.

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This week’s issue is really special because it contains the first of 7 excerpts from the Stockmanship Journal’s article, “Grandin’s Approach to Facilities and Animal Handling:  An Analysis.”  While the title may sound dry, the article itself is sure to stir up some controversy because it concludes that the premises behind, and the design of Dr. Temple Grandin’s solid-sided, curved processing systems don’t always hold up when subjected to analysis and observation of animal behavior.

Whit works cattle in BudBox.  Photo courtesy of Cattlexpressions

Whit works cattle out of a round corral. Photo courtesy of Cattlexpressions

Whew!  That’s kind of a scary thing to say! Dr. Grandin is a very influential voice in the livestock industry. Her animal handling facilities designs are used in a large number of feedyards and abattoirs in the United States, and she has doubtless made these places much more humane than they once were.  Those are important accomplishments.  But after years of working with animals in feedyards, ranches and abattoirs, stockmanship experts and authors Whit Hibbard and Dr. Lynn Locatelli began to find disconnects between how Dr. Grandin said animal handling should work, and how they saw animals actually behaving.  Those differences led them to do a careful analysis based on experience, observation and photographic and video evidence and to share it with the livestock community.  The purpose is not to attack Dr. Grandin or her work, but to make animal handling processes more humane still based on the best available information.  The authors previewed their article with Dr. Grandin, and asked her to share a response.  The On Pasture series concludes with Dr. Grandin’s response to this article.

Dr. Lynn Locatelli at work.  Photo courtesy of Cattlexpressions.com

Dr. Lynn Locatelli at work. Photo courtesy of Cattlexpressions.com

As far as we are aware, this is the first time anyone has done this kind of analysis.  And not everyone is going to like it.  It challenges some of the ideas about animal behavior that have been stated as fact so many times we’ve come to accept them as “common knowledge.”  That is always an uncomfortable place to go.  But at On Pasture, we’re committed to science and to sharing experiences from experts and practitioners that will make producers lives better. So we think that  it’s important to everyone that this information get broad circulation so that we can rethink and improve livestock handling for the benefit of the stock and the people involved.

We are honored to be working with Stockmanship Journal and hope that our partnership on this series will benefit you, our On Pasture readers.

Thanks for reading!

Kathy and Rachel

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About the author

editor and contributor

Kathy worked with the Bureau of Land Management for 12 years before founding Livestock for Landscapes in 2004. Her twelve years at the agency allowed her to pursue her goal of helping communities find ways to live profitably AND sustainably in their environment. She has been researching and working with livestock as a land management tool for over a decade. When she's not helping farmers, ranchers and land managers on-site, she writes articles, and books, and edits videos to help others turn their livestock into landscape managers.

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