Thank You, Dr. Temple Grandin
The other day I stumbled upon a HBO movie called “Temple Grandin.” It is based on a true story. Claire Danes stars in the movie as Temple Grandin, an autistic woman who changes the way most cattle businesses treat cattle. From sale barns to slaughter houses, Dr. Temple Grandin challenged them to rethink how they worked with cattle.
It was an intriguing movie. I enjoyed watching it. Most likely, Claire Danes will be nominated for some award because her performance was outstanding. If you are interested, the movie trailer is below. You get to see and hear from Dr. Grandin herself.
As much as I liked the movie, this article is not meant to be a review of the movie. I wanted to discuss Dr. Grandin and cattle handling techniques.
Dr. Temple Grandin is a professor of Animal Science at Colorado State University. She is autistic, which she believes allows her to see things differently. Most importantly, she is a keen observer of animal behavior. She spent years researching cattle in particular. Dr. Grandin also designs livestock handling facilities, which incorporate all of her research and years of experience.
As a child raised on a working cattle ranch, I already knew the proper techniques of livestock handling because that was how I was taught. It was how my daddy ranched. It was the only way we ever worked with our cattle. Our herd is our livelihood. You don’t mistreat your livelihood if you want to stay in business. I only learned recently that our ways were based on Dr. Grandin’s research. My dad knew a lot about her, her research, and had read many of her articles.
Why would the way that Cross Creek Cattle Company handles their cattle affect you? It is simple. Research shows that livestock handling and stress directly affect the meat quality. When gentle handling and low-stress techniques are employed, there is good meat quality. This idea is expounded upon in a lengthy article called “The Relationship Between Good Handling/Stunning and Meat Quality of Beef, Pork, and Lamb.” Four experts co-wrote this article, one of which was Dr. Grandin.
I think that it is fair to say that Dr. Temple Grandin has made a tremendous impact in the cattle industry. She has also indirectly affected consumers of meat products with her research. At the end of the movie, it stated that 80% of all cattle handling facilities in the United States employ Dr. Grandin’s techniques of low-stress management and gentle handling. She has played a large and important role in our lives.
If you are interested in raising grass fed beef, the book, Grass-Fed Cattle by Julius Ruechel is a great resource. The author spends a good portion of time discussing proper cattle handling techniques. He introduced me to terms like flight zone and low-stress handling. I had no idea at the time that these techniques were based on Dr. Grandin’s research. To me, they were just common sense ways to work with cows.
I am glad to know about Dr. Temple Grandin and her work. Even though I grew up on a ranch using her techniques, it feels good to know that her research was the reason. So thank you, Dr. Temple Grandin. Thank you for working so hard for humane and respectful practices to be used in the cattle industry.
And if you get a chance to see the movie, I recommend it. I thought it was fascinating.