Last Word with Animal Behaviorist Temple Grandin - Modern Farmer

Last Word with Animal Behaviorist Temple Grandin

Here's what the world's coolest animal behaviorist wants you to know now.

Temple Grandin, Ph.D., is a professor of animal sciences at Colorado State University and the coauthor of The Autistic Brain (2013) and Animals Make Us Human (2010).
Photography Photograph by Rosalie Winard

Most people think in words. Animals think in pictures. I think in pictures, so it was obvious to me to look at what an animal sees [on its way to slaughter]. In the 1970s, that was radical stuff.

Claire Danes did a great, great job portraying me. The movie [2010’s Temple Grandin] showed my visual thinking very accurately. It was like going back in a time machine.

I was mistaken to believe I could fix everything in the livestock industry. I’ve taught corporations how to do animal- welfare audits that target bad equipment. Unfortunately, fixing bad equipment doesn’t fix bad management.

We should not be wasting food. Pink slime, or finely textured beef, is not a high-end product. But throwing it out is like tossing a whole truckload of cattle into the garbage every day. The product just needs to be labeled properly.

Big companies are going to eliminate antibiotics use, because consumers are demanding it. I have a saying: “Heat softens steel, and then I can bend it into pretty grillwork. Cold steel, you cannot bend.”

I consider being well-known a responsibility. Kids look up to me. I want to see the geeky, different ones – labeled autistic or dyslexic or ADHD – become successful. Agriculture can be an ideal field for these kids.

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