World Renowned Pioneer of Farm Animal Welfare & Autism Advocate To Visit Ireland

Dr. Temple Grandin has had a movie made about her which won seven Emmy awards, a 2011 Golden Globe, and a Peabody Award.

Introduction to the movie: Temple Grandin (2010, HBO Films)


She was honoured in Time Magazine 2010 as one of “The 100 Most Influential People in the World”. She has appeared on television shows including CNN Larry King Live, 60 Minutes, the Today Show and featured in the New York Times, Forbes, U.S. News , World Report, Time Magazine and Discover magazine amongst others. She was also the subject of a BBC special “The Woman Who Thinks Like a Cow”.


Why ?


Dr. Temple Grandin Ph.D. is considered to be the world’s most famous adult with autism, who has used her unusual cognitive abilities to support her lifetime of pioneering work in farm-animal welfare and low-stress handling of livestock.

An expert in animal behaviour, inventor and livestock equipment designer, Dr. Grandin is renowned for her innovative work in the design of humane handling systems used by over half the cattle-processing facilities in the U.S.A. and Canada.


Dr. Grandin will be in Ireland to speak at the All-Ireland State Veterinarian’s Scientific Conference in Portmarnock, Co. Dublin, on 5th April, 2013, speaking about Improving Animal Welfare – A Practical Approach. The Conference is organised by state vets North and South of the border, who share interests in protecting consumer health, food safety and animal welfare on the island of Ireland. Dr. Grandin will also speak at the Irish Society for Autism Conference on 3rd & 4th April in the Convention Centre, Dublin.


Dr. Temple Grandin Ph.D. was a severely autistic child who had no signs of speech at the age of two. Her mother defied the advice of the doctors at that time and kept her out of an institution. She discovered early on that she had an instinctive affinity for animals and was educated in animal science.


As an expert on animal behaviour, Dr. Grandin almost single-handedly set into motion the transformation of the handling of livestock headed for slaughter in the United States.


Dr. Grandin is an autistic savant, meaning she has unusual cognitive abilities such as a photographic memory and excellent spatial skills. She says that her form of autism, which makes her an extreme visual learner and causes her to think in pictures, much like animals do, helps her to understand what animals perceive and to comprehend the emotional state of animals. This allowed her to understand the challenges that existed with livestock animal handling in the 1960’s and 1970’s, and she used those skills to help to shape new methods of animal handling and treatment.


Dr. Grandin has designed humane handling systems for half the cattle-processing facilities in the U.S. and Canada. In the U.S.A., many cattle are handled in a centre track restrainer system that she designed for meat plants. The curved chute and race systems she has designed for cattle are used worldwide and her writings on the flight zone and other principles of grazing animal behaviour have helped many people to reduce stress on their animals during handling.


Dr. Grandin has also developed an objective scoring system for assessing handling of cattle and pigs at meat plants. This scoring system is being used by many large corporations, such as McDonalds, Wendy’s International and Burger King to improve animal welfare.


Dr. Grandin has authored best-selling books in relation to animal advocacy, animal behaviour, animal welfare and also autism.


At the All-Ireland State Veterinarian’s Scientific Conference in Portmarnock, Co. Dublin, on 5th April, 2013 Dr. Grandin’s first presentation will review the principles of livestock handling and methods to reduce stress during handling. Her second presentation will be based on setting up and implementing objective outcome based welfare scoring systems for both farms and slaughter plants – some of the critical control points that should be measured during handling and on the farm.


Originally from Boston, Massachusetts, Dr. Grandin currently teaches courses on livestock behaviour and facility design at Colorado State University and consults with the livestock industry on facility design, livestock handling, and animal welfare.




Also speaking at the Animal Health & Welfare session of the All-Ireland State Veterinarian’s Scientific Conference in Portmarnock on 5th April will be Teresa MacWhite, & Peter Maher from the Department of Agriculture, Food & The Marine.


They have been tracking the movements of some 40 badgers over three years in an N11 Badger Study, established to explore whether major road works and clear felling of forests can impact on TB breakdowns in neighbouring cattle herds.


The badgers involved in the study have sent over 70,000 GPS positions during the study period, providing valuable new insights into the normal behaviour of badgers




The first bluetongue outbreak ever recorded in northern Europe was recognised in the Maastricht region of the Netherlands in 2006, killing many thousands of animals (mainly sheep) and spreading (in successive years) to almost every country in Europe. The virus was identified as being closely related to a strain previously isolated in Nigeria.


Schmallenberg virus (SBV), which cases deformities in unborn lambs and calves, started as an outbreak northern Europe during 2011. It was caused by a virus related to Shamonda virus (isolated in Nigeria). SBV spreads very rapidly and has already infected the whole of England parts of Ireland and much of northern and western Europe.


“In recent years many Blue Tongue Virus strains and several zoonotic arboviruses have appeared in Southern Europe highlighting continuing and increasing threats that may be related to increased trade, tourism and climate change in the region,” says Professor Peter Mertens from the Pilbright Institute (UK). The implications of this will be discussed by Professor Mertens at the State Veterinarian’s Scientific conference.


Professor Peter Mertens worked on the Arboviruses, particularly Bluetongue virus and African horse sickness virus, at the UK’s The Pirbright Institute for over 30 years.

His group was responsible for development of the diagnostic and epidemiology systems used to identify and track virus movements during recent bluetongue outbreaks in Europe, contributing to the eradication of the bluetongue virus from the UK in 2008.
This year’s All-Ireland State Veterinarian’s Scientific conference is a collaboration between the Veterinary Officer’s Association (VOA), the Northern Ireland Public Service Alliance Veterinary Branch (NIPSA) and the Local Authority Veterinary Service (LAVS). It is organised with support from the Food Safety Authority of Ireland; The Department of Agriculture & Rural Development (NI); The Department of Agriculture, Food & The Marine; and Safefood.

Delegate enquiries can be directed by e mail to or by calling +353-(0)-86-1744671.

Comments are closed.