Animal welfare expert Temple Grandin recognized how animal handling practices and equipment have improved immensely in the past 40 years, but says the ag industry has done a poor job communicating those changes to the public.
Grandin spoke about animal welfare and the media at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln as part of the Institute of Agriculture and Natural Resources’ Heuermann Lectures. Grandin told the audience the agricultural industry “has done a rotten job of communicating.”
With a growing consumer interest in knowing where their food came from and how it was treated through the food process, it is important to let them know about the advancements in animal handling practices. Grandin says the media and public focus on farms and slaughterhouses that mishandle and mistreat animals, treating them as the norm rather than the exception to the rule.
"One of the things that frustrates me is we've improved a lot of this and nobody knows about it," Grandin said. "When I first started, maybe 10 to 20 percent did a decent job of handling animals. Now it's 80 percent."
Grandin advises the livestock industry to understand animal behavior to get animals to voluntarily do what handlers want them to do. She also encourages the industry to share progress and success stories with the public.
Grandin is known worldwide for her work on the use of low-stress, behavior-based livestock handling techniques and facilities. The University of Nebraska Extension reports half of the cattle in North American meat plants are handled in equipment designed by Grandin.
Click here to see the lecture.