Well known for her strong opinions as well as her expertise on farm-animal handling and well-being, Temple Grandin, Colorado State University animal scientist, says the next advances in the area need to come on the farm.
She says it’s important to identify animals that have or could have transport issues before they leave the farm. “We are going to have to be look at problems out on the farm and how they affect handling. Pigs come in and they are so wild and crazy that you can barely handle them. Cattle come in lame and heat-stressed. I’ve got to have an animal that I can handle,” she said referring to moving animals through the slaughter process.
Grandin presented a discussion about the advancements in farm-animal handling in a webinar sponsored by the American Meat Institute. For the past 20 years or so, she has consulted extensively with the meatpacking sector and has helped it make tremendous improvements in animal handling prior to slaughter. That includes the animal stunning process, as well as changing the culture and attitudes of plant management and workers regarding animal care and handling. Grandin is a big advocate of data collection and audits and has used both to motivate such changes.
Video monitoring is another important step worth expanding. Grandin says it would help show the public how animals behave and are handled. Showing the public the kind of advancements that have been made is key for packers and producers to move forward on the issue. But the videos also are useful tools to illustrate where changes need to be made.
To ensure credibility with the public, however, Grandin believes that the videos would have to be handled by a third-party. “Consumers are getting increasingly concerned about how animals are being raised. As an industry, we need to be opening up the door electronically and just show them how it works,” she adds.