A Day With Temple

29 Feb

I, along with 720 others, attended Southwest Missouri’s 28th Annual Spring Forage Conference and had the once in a lifetime opportunity to listen to Dr. Temple Grandin’s incites on animal behavior. Growing up in the cattle industry I have always had a hands-on role in working cattle and as cattlemen we all think we are doing it the right way. I first become intrigued with Dr. Grandin’s research when I was an undergraduate at Missouri State University. Her ideas seemed so basic that I soon asked myself, “Why aren’t we all doing it like this?”

My appreciation for Dr. Grandin grew even more when I had the opportunity to work in a special education classroom. I can’t believe growing up in a time where people didn’t understand disabilities and especially autism. It was hard enough teaching students with diagnosed disabilities and knowing how to work with them. She has opened the door for autism research and is a true hero.

Once I became an agriculture education instructor I was thrilled when HBO created the documentary about her life. I couldn’t wait to show it in my classes when we discussed animal behavior. I am not a person who likes to watch movies more than once, but this movie is different. I can’t count using my fingers and toes the number of times I have watched it from beginning to end. Each time I have caught something new I hadn’t noticed before.

Today, I am honored to call myself a full-time farmer. The practices Dr. Grandin teaches are ones I hope to achieve on a daily basis on my own farm. They will not all be complete in a day or week or month, but little by little we can all take pride in the fact we do our best to ensure our livestock are treated right.

Throughout her talk today I was too engrossed with listening, taking pictures and tweeting to take notes. So like all women should I am taking advantage of my husband’s nerdy side. He took great notes so I want to share a glimpse of what Dr. Grandin has spent a lifetime researching.

 Q & A with Dr. Temple Grandin (the audience asked the questions, but I didn’t write them down. It should prolly read: A with Dr. Temple Grandin)

  • Vigilance and aggression are two different things. Vigilance is a cow protecting its calf. Aggression is a cow tearing up equipment and targeting people.
  • Bottle fed bulls are more apt to aggression when fully grown because they have been isolated from other animals and think they are humans. When mature their instinct is to prove dominance, even with humans.
  • Big ag and little ag are on the same side and need to work together.
  • We have to show what we do and that may mean we need to change some things we do. We need to tell our own story!
  • Cattle perceive a man on a horse and a man on foot as two different things. They need to be exposed to both.
  • Acclimating animals to handling reduces stress.
  • An animal’s first experience with new people, places & equipment must be a good one.
  • In the 70’s and 80’s HSUS funded grants to make improvements and faculties. Do we see that today?
  • Activists are more radicle then practical. They are more abstract because they have no personal experience in the field of agriculture.
  • Separation distress during weaning is not the same as the emotion expressed during pain and fear.
  • Grazing animals hide their fear of pain to detour prey.
  • Animals must make the association of award or punishment within a second or less.
  • The optimal color for a working facility is tan, but any dull color other then black works. Black attracts heat. The color needs to be the same throughout.
  • Cattle see mainly yellow, blue and green. They do not see red.
  • Working chutes and loading chutes should not be placed in the direction of the rising or setting sun. If they are then change the time of day you work cattle.
  • The main difference between an animal and human brain is the cerebral cortex. This is the thinking part of the brain.
  • Over selecting for a single trait will cause problems in production agriculture.


Temple Grandin's AutographPicture with Temple GrandinQuestion and Answer session with Temple Grandin discussing animal welfareQuestion and Answer session with Temple Grandin discussing animal welfare

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One Response to “A Day With Temple”

  1. Carla Bellis February 29, 2012 at 9:49 AM #

    I loved her movie too! As a school counselor and a purebred cattle owner it was truly an amazing amount of valuable information. Thanks to Kevin for taking such amazing notes. I will read them more than once. Thanks fo you for sharing with all of us!

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