This week, Naomi and I took a five day bus tour as a part of Beef SD, a program for young cattle producers to learn more about all segments of the cattle industry. Industry seems like a cold term, but the process of turning grass into the beef you might serve for supper tonight is such an amazing process, it takes an amazing amount of management and coordination to complete. This trip included visiting with world-renown livestock handling expert Temple Grandin, enjoying a meal at a white tablecloth restaurant, and tours of several large feedlots, a popular seedstock producer, and a beef packing plant. It is all too much to explain in just one post, so for today I'll just tell you about meeting Temple Grandin.
Dr. Temple Grandin is an animal science professor at Colorado State University. She revolutionized the cattle industry over the past thirty years with her design of livestock handling facilities. Dr. Grandin is autistic, which she explains helps her to visualize what the animal sees and feels when being handled by a human. There is an HBO movie, titled "Temple Grandin", that tells her story fairly accurately. I highly recommend seeing this film. She has an amazing story. Over half of the cattle handling facilities in the US incorporate her designs, which work with the cow's natural instincts to move them calmly where they need to go. We use her designs in several locations on our ranch.
Besides humane cattle handling, Dr. Grandin spoke to our group about the need for ranchers like us to communicate with the average consumer. She pointed out how anti-agriculture groups are very effective using social media to portray what we do in a negative light. She told us us we need to be using the same venues to tell people what we do and what our values are, building trust and a positive image with the general public. I think the average American probably trusts the average farmer or rancher, but we have not done a good job of telling people what we do, or how it has changed since the days of 40 acres, a milk cow, and a few chickens. This blog is part of our attempt to tell our story. Temple Grandin's story is inspirational in that she overcame great odds to change things she saw as needing changed.
As a rancher, her story is also inspiring because she did so much to improve the well-being of the animals we raise. It might seem strange that we are concerned about an animal that is just going to be meat. However, we share Grandin's opinion that we owe it to the animal to treat it with respect, because it is giving itself for us. If you ever have a question about the cattle industry, whether it involves what we do on the ranch or not, we'd be happy to help you understand better what goes into the beef that might be in your freezer or fridge right now. Just send us an email and we'll do our best to help. We would like to develop a Q & A page on this website and your questions will help us in telling our story. The next post will be about the Culinary Kitchen and CattleFax.