It will be hard to top the guest speaker at the first seminar presented by the Purdue University Center for Animal Welfare Science. Dr. Temple Grandin spoke on a range of topics before a packed house at the Lynn Hall of Veterinary Medicine. She identified the most serious animal welfare abusers today as coming from the dairy industry, unlike the operators of Fair Oaks Dairy that she had just toured.
“I was very impressed with the dairy,” she told HAT. It was beautiful! Let’s look at the things I’ll score on animal welfare. Body condition, excellent. They’re getting 3 ½ lactations per cow. Lameness, I watched some of them going up to the milking parlor and I didn’t see any lame cows. Conditions of hots and legs was absolutely beautiful. I didn’t see swellings, and clean. They were nice and clean. Those are really important things for animal welfare in a dairy. And I watched the cattle go into the circular parlor and they were just going in all by themselves nice and quiet. That’s the way it’s supposed to work.”
Grandin says Fair Oaks is a model operation for doing things the right way.
“There are some dairys doing a beautiful job, but on the other hand there’s dairies that don’t care. One of our professors and her student at Colorado State did a survey on beef quality assurance for old dairy cows when they go to market, and there’s a big portion of dairies that don’t care about doing injections in the correct places on old dairy cows.”
She also spoke about the two-thirds of the public that doesn’t like gestation stalls for sows even though science says the stalls are ok.
“Two-thirds of the public doesn’t like it, you need to change it. I think what ag has got to do, and this is basically what Fair Oaks is doing, you got to open up the door. They’ve got Pig Adventure where you can see it is a totally indoor, slatted floor building with group housing, and people have been getting a good reaction to it. They can explain the things that they’re doing. Then there are some practices that are going to have to be changed. That doesn’t mean you put every pig outside.”
Grandin is a designer of livestock handling facilities used around the world and the subject of the Emmy and Golden Globe winning HBO movie focusing on her life and early career. Read more about her at www.grandin.com.
(Grandin-Eubank photo courtesy Kevin R. Doerr, Dir., Communications/Public Affairs, Purdue University College of Veterinary Medicine)