2017 Keynote Speaker: Temple Grandin, Ph.D.
Dr. Temple Grandin was born in Boston, Massachusetts. Temple’s achievements are remarkable because she was an autistic child. At age two she had no speech and all the signs of severe autism. Fortunately, her mother defied the advice of the doctors and kept her out of an institution. Many hours of speech therapy, and intensive teaching enabled Temple to learn speech. As a teenager, life was hard with constant teasing. Mentoring by her high school science teacher and her aunt on her ranch in Arizona motivated Temple to study and pursue a career as a scientist and livestock equipment designer.
Dr. Temple Grandin obtained her B.A. at Franklin Pierce College in 1970. In 1974 she was employed as Livestock Editor for the Arizona Farmer Ranchman and also worked for Corral Industries on equipment design. In 1975 she earned her M.S. in Animal Science at Arizona State University for her work on the behavior of cattle in different squeeze chutes. Dr. Grandin was awarded her Ph.D in Animal Science from the University of Illinois in 1989 and is currently a Professor at Colorado State University.
She has done extensive work on the design of handling facilities. Half the cattle in the U.S. and Canada are handled in equipment she has designed for meat plants. Other professional activities include developing animal welfare guidelines for the meat industry and consulting with McDonalds, Wendy’s International, Burger King, and other companies on animal welfare.
Following her Ph.D. research on the effect of environmental enrichment on the behavior of pigs, she has published several hundred industry publications, book chapters and technical papers on animal handling plus 63 refereed journal articles in addition to ten books. She currently is a professor of animal sciences at Colorado State University where she continues her research while teaching courses on livestock handling and facility design. Her book, Animals in Translation was a New York Times best seller and her book Livestock Handling an Transport, now has a fourth edition which was published in 2014. Other popular books authored by Dr. Grandin are Thinking in Pictures, Emergence Labeled Autistic, Animals Make us Human, Improving Animal Welfare: A Practical Approach, The Way I See It, and The Autistic Brain.
Dr. Grandin has received numerous awards including the Meritorious Achievement Award from the Livestock Conservation Institute, named a Distinguished Alumni at Franklin Pierce College and received an honorary doctorate from McGill University, University of Illinois, and Duke University. She has also won prestigious industry awards including the Richard L. Knowlton Award from Meat Marketing and Technology Magazine and the Industry Advancement Award from the American Meat Institute and the Beef Top 40 industry leaders and the Lifetime Achievement Award from The National Cattlemen’s Beef Association. Her work has also been recognized by humane groups and she received several awards. HBO has recently premiered a movie about Temple’s early life and career with the livestock industry. The movie received seven Emmy awards, a Golden Globe, and a Peabody Award. In 2011, Temple was inducted into the Cowgirl Hall of Fame.
Dr. Grandin is a past member of the board of directors of the Autism Society of America. She lectures to parents and teachers throughout the U.S. on her experiences with autism. Articles and interviews have appeared in the New York Times, People, Time, National Public Radio, 20/20, The View, and the BBC. She was also honored in Time Magazines 2010 “The 100 Most Influential People in the World.” In 2012, Temple was inducted into the Colorado Women’s Hall of Fame. Dr. Grandin now resides in Fort Collins, Colorado.
IMPACT STATEMENT OF DR. GRANDIN’S WORK
Dr. Temple Grandin has had a major impact on the meat and livestock industries worldwide. List below are six specific examples that document this influence.
- Design of Animal Handling Facilities – Dr. Grandin is one of the world’s leaders in the design of livestock handling facilities. She has designed livestock facilities throughout the United States and in Canada, Europe, Mexico, Australia, New Zealand and other countries. In North America, almost half of all cattle processing facilities include a center track restrainer system that she designed for meat plants. Her curved chute systems are used worldwide and her writings on the flight zone and other principles of grazing animal behavior have helped many producers to reduce stress during handling. Temple has also designed an objective scoring system for assessing handling of cattle and pigs at meat plants. This system is being used by many large corporations to improve animal care.
- Industry Consulting – Dr. Grandin has consulted with many different industry organizations each year for the past ten years. These efforts represent the majority of her time as she has a part-time appointment at Colorado State University but a thriving business as a consultant. The majority of her work is involved with large feedlots and commercial meat packers. She has worked with Cargill, Tyson, JBS Swift, Smithfield, Seaboard, Cactus Feeders, and many other large companies. Her company also does design work for many ranches. She was also involved with several major packing companies. Her consulting has led to work with companies such as Wendy’s International, Burger King, Whole Foods, Chipotle, and McDonald’s Corporation, where she has trained auditors regarding animal care at processing plants. She also has consulted with organic and natural livestock producers on animal care standards The animal handling guidelines that she wrote for the American Meat Institute are being used by many large meat buying customers to objectively audit animal handling and stunning.
- Research – Dr. Grandin maintains a limited number of graduate students and conducts research that assists in developing systems for animal handling and, in particular, with the reduction of stress and losses at the packing plant. She has published her research in the areas of cattle temperament, environmental enrichment of pigs, livestock behavior during handling, reducing dark cutters and bruises, bull fertility housing dairy cattle and effective stunning methods for cattle and hogs.
- Media Exposure – Dr. Grandin has provided worldwide media exposure for the livestock industry and, in particular, with issues relating to animal care. She has appeared on television shows such as 20/20, 48 hours, CNN Larry King Live, 60 Minutes, and has been featured in People Magazine, the New York Times, Forbes, U.S. News and World Report, and Time magazine. Interviews with Dr. Grandin have been broadcast on National Public Radio (NPR) and she has been taped for similar shows in Europe. She was named one of Time Magazine’s 100 Most Influential people. HBO has made a movie about her life starring Claire Danes.
- Outreach – Dr. Grandin maintains an appointment with Cooperative Extension at Colorado State where she has been active in making presentations to Colorado ranchers and farmers as well as those interested in the packing industry. She is sought after to discuss issues of quality assurance. Privately, she has developed her own website (www.grandin.com) which has been expanded to include information on livestock handling in addition to information relative to the design of handling systems. A section on bison handling and one in Spanish have been popular. Over 2,000 people visit the website every month and approximately 1,000 download significant amounts of information. As many as 1,431 files were downloaded daily and over 42,000 have been downloaded in a single month. The website has been accessed by people from over 50 countries worldwide. She also did a TED talk in 2010 entitled, “The World Needs All Kinds of Minds.”
- International Activities – It is clear from the wide variety of information accessed via the website, presentations made in international settings and interest in livestock handling systems developed by Dr. Grandin that her work has reached an international audience. She typically travels to make presentations internationally 3-5 times annually.