'Temple Grandin' airs Feb. 6 on HBO

by Bryan Salvage
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DENVER — On Feb. 6, ranchers and others throughout the country will be tuning in to HBO to honor Temple Grandin’s work in improving the care of cattle when the biopic, “Temple Grandin” airs.

Living with autism, Ms. Grandin revolutionized livestock handling by tapping into her ability to see the world in a different way to develop a deeper understanding of animal behavior.

“There’s not a rancher in this country that isn’t aware of her work. We have all been influenced by Temple,” said Clint Peck, director, Beef Quality Assurance at Montana State University. “There is no question her work has helped us all understand more about our animals and how to handle them in a caring and humane manner.”

The beef checkoff-funded Beef Quality Assurance (B.Q.A.) program sets cattle handling and beef quality standards that are followed throughout the beef production process to ensure cattle are receiving proper care.

“Temple’s insight into animal behavior and low-stress handling is the foundation of the B.Q.A. assessment, which is the scoring system we use to verify cattle are handled properly. Her contributions are monumental,” said Ryan Ruppert, director, Beef Quality Assurance, National Cattlemen’s Beef Association. Mr. Ruppert attended the Denver premiere of HBO’s “Temple Grandin” on Feb. 3 as a guest of Ms. Grandin.

“I thought the movie did a great job capturing the challenges Temple overcame to improve livestock care in food production,” he said. “What shocked me is how different the beef industry looks today than it did in the 60s and 70s as a result of her perseverance. She is a true pioneer.”

Ms. Grandin’s work has impacted every segment of beef production, from the farm to the feedlot and, ultimately, the processing facility.

"Temple Grandin has been a critical resource to Cargill, which has allowed us to continually improve our animal handling facilities and our animal welfare programs," said John Keating, president, Cargill Beef.

"Temple's insight and understanding of cattle behavior is truly unique. Her ability and expertise in facility design have been invaluable to the beef industry," added Dr. Mike Siemens, Cargill Leader of Animal Welfare and Husbandry.

Cargill Beef is the second-largest processor in North America and one of the largest commercial cattle feeders in the U.S. Cargill Beef sells fresh meat and other products to virtually every major chain, wholesaler and distributor in the country.

“When cattle arrive at one of our feedyards, they are moved through areas that are signature Temple Grandin, like the curved chute, that use the animals’ natural instincts to minimize stress. In fact, several of our processing facilities were built under her direction,” said Mike Thoren, president and chief operating officer for JBS Five Rivers Cattle Feeding, LLC. “Her insights and empathy into animal behavior revolutionized the cattle industry and continue to ensure cattle are handled humanely.”

JBS Five Rivers is the largest cattle feeder in the world with a combined feeding capacity of more than 839,000 head of cattle.

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