No matter where it is, Dr. Temple Grandin says standards need to be clear when it comes to cattle.
Speaking at the Saskatchewan Stock Growers Association’s 103rd annual general meeting in Regina on Monday, Grandin shared tips on low-stress animal handling with producers in the province.
Grandin said handling of the animals has gotten better and better over the years, but other problems are now moving to the forefront. Issues may arise , however, when it comes to vague guidelines for producers.
“Standards need to be clear. You can’t write things like handle them properly. I don’t know what ‘handle them properly’ means,” Grandin explained to reporters. Instead, she supports the idea of numerical scoring, explaining you can manage what you can measure.
“We’ve got to get away from all the vague wording like adequate space, handle them properly, just keep the cattle clean … you need to have scoring systems that are more objective.”
Grandin admits that consumers aren’t always aware of the improvements made in handling over the years. She urges producers to step in to help educate people.
“What every rancher needs to do is spend some time online communicating with people in the cities. It’s grassroots, you know; a few people at a time,” Grandin said. She also pointed to studies that say consumers find farmers and ranchers more credible than food companies.
“So if a rancher comes (online) and says, ‘we raise our own beef and we feed it to our family’, that’s shared values. We grow this food … and we feed it to our own family.”
Agriculture and autism
Grandin also spent time Monday visiting young people in Regina who have autism. As an autism spokesperson, Grandin spoke with the kids about how they might find a future in agriculture themselves.
“I think some of these kids who are quirky and different … they’d be great fixing the feed mill, fixing farm equipment, even all this high-tech stuff.”
Grandin said she hopes the kids get a chance to experience some of the things they can do in the agrictulure industry.
“They can’t become a pen rider unless they’re exposed to it.”