Temple Grandin visits beef plant

Farm Forum

Temple Grandin, nationally known designer of livestock handling facilities and a professor of Animal Science at Colorado State University, toured the Northern Beef Packers processing plant in Aberdeen on Dec. 28.

Grandin reviewed the initial plans for the plant before the facility was built. Now that the plant has started processing animals, she returned to see the operations and equipment.

“It’s really super nice,” she said. “I was really pleased with how the cattle were going into the restrainer. The yards are great.”

“While I’ve seen the website showing the construction, this was the first time I’ve been in the building in Aberdeen and observed the chutes and crowd pens. The critical part of a good facility is that management cares about the handling of animals. And I do see that.”

On Dec. 21, the beef plant was given its permanent certificate of occupancy from the city of Aberdeen, meaning Northern Beef can begin processing as many animals as it can. At full capacity, officials say the plant will process 1,500 head of cattle a day.

A great deal has changed in the animal livestock industry as people understand why humane handling of animals is good for the producers, as well as for the animals.

Grandin urges farmers and ranchers to share what they do with the public to counter misconceptions about the process.

“People are curious and it’s interesting for people to see what happens on a farm or ranch,” she said. “We’d be better off if we livestreamed what goes on when we do chores.”

Grandin said she’s worked with the American Meat Institute to produce a video showing what happens inside a packing plant. On YouTube, search for “Video Tour of Beef Plant featuring Temple Grandin.”

According to her website at http://www.colostate.edu/templegrandin, in North America, almost half of the cattle in processing plants are handled in a center track restrainer system that she designed. Curved chute and race systems she has designed for cattle are used worldwide and her writings on the flight zone and other principles of grazing animal behavior have helped many people to reduce stress on their animals during handling.

Grandin has designed plants that are located in the United States, Canada, Europe, Mexico, Australia, New Zealand, and other countries.

She has also developed an objective scoring system for assessing handling of cattle and pigs at meat plants. Many large corporations, to improve animal welfare, are using this scoring system. Other areas of research are: cattle temperament, environmental enrichment for pigs, reducing dark cutters and bruises, bull fertility, training procedures, and effective stunning methods for cattle and pigs at meat plants.

Grandin obtained her B.A. at Frankin Pierce College and her M.S. in Animal Science at Arizona State University. Grandin received her Ph.D. in Animal Science from the University of Illinois in 1989.

Today she teaches courses on livestock behavior and facility design at Colorado State and consults with the livestock industry on facility design, livestock handling, and animal welfare.