Dr. Temple Grandin spoke about management's ability to cure animal handling problems.
ATLANTA – At this year’s IPPE education seminar, “Livestock Handling and Stunning to Optimize Animal Welfare and Regulatory Compliance,” Dr. Temple Grandin, Dept. of Animal Science, Colorado State Univ., addressed handling concerns from bureaucracy in auditing to easy ways processors can enhance animal handling to make it as humane as possible.

Grandin said audits with guidelines such as the NAMI guidelines first and foremost need to be two things, “simple and clear.” She emphasized clarity and effectiveness taking top priority and keeping animal handling audits from turning into paperwork audits. On the solution side to problems with handling, Grandin pointed out management’s ability to fix some easy things that don’t require new and expensive equipment.

“I can fix half the world with equipment, the other half is management,” she said referring to instances where an observation can go a long way for fixing handling problems.

Calm animals are easy to handle, she added. One way to keep animals calm is to know what bothers them as they’re being moved. Animals notice and react to small things that humans take for granted such as shadows on the floor in front of them, wind in their face from an open door, or being forced to walk into a dark place. A paper cup on the floor of the chute can cause an animal to stop and back things up. Even a paper towel dangling from a dispenser in view of an animal can cause distress.

Grandin reiterated keeping animals calm by minimizing prodding, pushing and yelling. Anything novel that startles an animal will scare it into a state of distress. This goes for all species. And when an animal does get startled, handlers need to calm it, not agitate it further.

“If an animal rears up in the shoot, back off,” she said. “Stop prodding it and yelling at it.”