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.
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.
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