Humane Livestock Handling: Understanding Livestock Behavior and Building Facilities for Healthier Animals
Temple Grandin, Ph.D. and Mark Deesing

Review by Nanette Walker Smith, MEd, RVT, CVT, LVT Star
(Click on stars for an explanation)

Temple Grandin is a well known author and lecturer not only for her work with livestock, but in successfully tackling autism. In this text she leads the reader to a new level of understanding from the animal’s point of view. Because of her autism she admits to being a completely visual learner giving her the perspective that the animal also understands, what it sees, whether or not the visual images give a sense of security or comfort, movement or stasis. As an animal facilities designer with a degree in architecture as well as veterinary technology and education, I first met Dr. Grandin as she lectured for veterinary technology educators; many eyes were opened that day. That lecture was shortly after this text was published and I was anxious to speak with her as well as read more about this amazing understanding I felt a kindred spirit with. The text did not disappoint as I devoured the architecture as well as the extreme compassion that Dr. Grandin holds for large livestock.

Written with the aid of co author Mark Deesing for the drafting aspect the text is separated into four parts. Part One opens the text with a discussion of the behavior of grazing animals. In two chapters, Dr. Grandin covers the importance of understanding the nuances light, dark, shadows, fence heights, memory, genetics, and sex play in the psyche of grazing livestock. This comprehension is truly a requirement of those handling and raising these animals not only from an economic standpoint, but from an animal welfare perspective. By addressing these important factors first, it was easy to imagine why cowboys are able to ‘read’ their herd; when a person spends as much time working in close proximity with these animals, the understanding take shape.

Part Two transitions smoothly into handling livestock. This is where Dr. Grandin takes the pasture into the pen and the economic vestures that surround livestock. She has consulted with and designed multiple facilities for large beef production facilities and in these chapters sideswipes the reader into realizing that the basic safety and welfare of the animals is what makes better beef, better production, and a more successful venture. It is amazing to understand that by watching how livestock react to penning, movement within the pen, and noises from their level can lead to better pen design with minimal trauma and stress. And somewhat surprisingly, understanding and embracing this perspective has proven to be profitable for corporations. Part 2 of this book takes the observer through with the livestock to the handling facility and ultimately to slaughter; the entire time with the animal’s welfare and minimal stress to the end in mind.

Part Three launches further into the architectural side of creating a low-stress handling system. At this point, the text strays farther away from veterinary medicine and into structural design, repeating multiple times the inherent and behavioral specifics covered in the first half of the book. From the designer standpoint, there are some great ideas to consider with regard to flooring, walls, chutes, and paint which all play a role in low stress. This consideration is huge from my architectural background because many architects do not understand an animal’s response to these specifics and look only to pleasing the eye of the human beholder as well as their pocketbook. Veterinarians and veterinary staff considering the construction of large animal housing should read this text carefully, take notes, and read it again.

Finally Part Four gets to the often overlooked nitty-gritty details of the actual facility planning from latches and railing type specific to species to feedlot and meat plants. The end of the text includes multiple layouts for both production size as well as species size that could be taken directly to an architect to start planning a new facility layout. Dr. Grandin bluntly states the best facility is often a new facility from the ground up. The take home message for this text is: Know your animals from the most basic standpoint, put yourself in their shoes and consider what they experience. It’s a difficult task to separate anthropomorphism from the actual animal experience, but if the reader takes the basis of this text to heart I guarantee the reader will never look at another corral, farm, barn, or animal facility in the same light again.

I gave this text 4 out of 5 stars only because from the veterinary standpoint, it is not an essential for veterinary practice. However, for anyone working with livestock, studying animal science, or even zoology as it relates to grazing animals (even for zoo purposes), this text will provide wonderful insight into the total package of animal welfare and getting the most out of the animal, be it meat or pleasure from a stress free environment. It is a fast read for budding students that need an extra, non-small animal viewpoint into behavior and personally I think would be very beneficial read before any veterinary or veterinary technician student walks into a paddock to face his or her first grazing animal.

Publishers: North Adams, Massachusetts: Storey Publishing. (2008).

228 pages, soft cover

ISBN-13: 978-1-60342-028-0

VIN Store URL: Not available in the VIN store

Table of Contents
Book Reviews
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Alternative Medicine
Animal Welfare
Client Education
Cytology / Hematology / Histology
Emergency Med
Food Animals/Livestock
Handling & Restraint
Human-Animal Bond
Imaging & Radiology
Infectious Diseases
Internal Medicine
Laboratory Medicine
Practice Management
Rabbits, Rodents & Ferrets
Shelter Medicine
Veterinary Education
Wildlife-Zoo Animals
* Zoo Wild Med. 6th Ed.
* Zoo Wild. Immobilization
Biology Med. Elephant
Hand-Rearing Mammals
You are hereHumane Livestock Handling: Understanding Livestock Behavior and Building Facilities for Healthier Animals
Infectious Wild Mammal 3rd Ed.
Restraint & Handling 3rd Ed.
Rhino Glue-On Shoes
Wildlife Medicine & Rehabilitation (Self-Assessment Colour Review) (VSPN Review)
* Elephant's Foot
* Parasit. Wild Mammal 2nd Ed.
* Philosophy Wild. 3rd Ed.
* Practical Wildlife
* Restraint & Handling 2nd Ed.
* Tarantulas of Belize
BSAVA Wildl. Casualties

Date Published: December 26, 2011

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