Temple Grandin Speaks about Cattle Handling

(Kate) With K-State Research and Extension, I’m Kate Hagans. The Beef Cattle Institute of Kansas State University hosted the International Symposium of Beef Cattle Welfare. One of the main speakers at the symposium was Temple Grandin, where she spoke of the value of good stockmanship. (Temple) The first thing I think we probably ought to define is things that are definitely not good stockmanship. When you measure cattle handling, when you measure things like focalization in squeeze chutes, falling down, stumbling, electric prod use – what that does is enable you to prevent bad stockmanship because you manage the things that you measure. What I have found is producers always want the thing – the drug, the facility, the computer program. They want a thing more than they want something like stockmanship, because it’s management. Stockmanship takes time to learn, it requires time to do it. There’s acclimation research that’s been done in feed yards, like getting cattle used to people walking through them, and definitely there’s benefits, but it takes time to do it. An animal’s first experience with a new person, a new piece of equipment or a new place should be a good first experience. This is really important. You want to have a young heifer’s first experience with the corral to be a good first experience. Just feed them in there, walk them through it, because if the first experience with a new place is bad, animals tend to not forget. Animal thinking is very specific. One good example is a man on a horse is viewed differently than a man on the ground. Think about it. It’s a different picture, so it’s extremely important for cattle to get accustomed to be going in and out of pens with a person on foot before they leave a ranch because that’s something they’re going to have to do when they go to an auction, a feedyard or a packing plant. What I have learned is that about 20% of people who train them can become really good at stockmanship. Research is clear on things like yelling and screaming, and this is something that I think people are getting better on. Research, some rather old research, shows that screaming at cattle makes the heart rate go up more than just the sound of a gate slamming. Animals know intent and when a person is yelling and screaming at them, that has intent. Just equipment noise like the hydraulic chute motor – it doesn’t have intent. There’s been a whole lot of research that shows very clearly – animals that are afraid of people are less productive. (Kate) That was Temple Grandin with Colorado State University speaking at the International Symposium on Beef Cattle Welfare. For K-State Research and Extension, I’m Kate Hagans.

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