ATI dedicates beef cattle handling facility designed by Temple Grandin

Ohio agriculture technical institute
By JANINE MAYFIELD

Contributing writer

WOOSTER, Ohio — The Ohio State University’s Agricultural Technical Institute dedicated its new, state-of-the-art beef cattle handling facility Oct. 12. It is the first of its kind in Ohio.

Six people participated in the official ribbon cutting, with sophomore Emily Painter of Frazeysburg doing the honors.

Painter said the new facility allows students to work with the cattle in a more efficient way, “especially in administering vaccines and shots.” She was excited to continue her studies at the new facility, which was designed to reduce stress on cattle.

Reducing stress

ATI worked with Grandin Livestock Handling Systems Inc., from Fort Collins, Colo., to construct a facility designed by renowned animal behaviorist Temple Grandin.

“This facility is a great asset in providing a venue for teaching our Ohio State ATI students about proper beef cattle handling and facility design,” said James E. Kinder, interim director of Ohio State ATI. “It will also be highly useful in working with beef producers in outreach engagement endeavors.”

Stephen Boyles, OSU professor of animal sciences, asked everyone to walk through the corral acting like a cow.

Using his two pointer fingers, he demonstrated that a human only sees about 180 degrees at a time, whereas a cow sees about 340 degrees.

Consequently, one of the distinctive features of Grandin’s design is a system of curved chutes combined with a round crowd pen. The tendency of cattle when herded is to move back in the direction they came from. This new design allows the animals to work with — instead of against — their natural behavior.

Other design features include the solid-sided fencing, which keeps the focus of the cattle inside the corral, and the solid coat of gray paint throughout the entire corral. Animals are sensitive to light and Grandin integrated the solid color to keep the cows from seeing startling color transitions.

The ceremony

Nels Hansen, chairman of the Agricultural and Engineering Technologies Division, opened the dedication ceremonies by pointing out what was obvious to everyone: “I can’t imagine a more beautiful location to have this facility.”

Hansen said that since 1969 when ATI was established, its mission and purpose has been constant.

“Student learning comes first,” he said. “We reinforce our mission each day by involving students in the work they’ll be applying after they graduate from ATI, and this beef cattle handling facility is in keeping with our mission. Students need to understand how to learn to work with the animals in a safe and respectful way.”

Bobby Moser, dean and vice president for agricultural administration, agreed. “We want our students to leave here having used the latest technology, so they can promote that wherever they go and whatever they do,” he said.

While Moser emphasized what the students would gain from using this facility, he also stressed that the humane handling of the animals is high on their list.

Act like a cow

Freshman Kyle Bunn of Orville explained how the state-of-the-art hydraulic squeeze chute allows for near-perfect injections into the cows’ necks.

“We administer the medicine by the cow’s weight,” he said. “The squeeze chute weighs the cow and locks its neck in, allowing us to humanely inject the cow without any person or animal getting harmed.”

Bunn said their previous chute was manual and the timing had to be just right to lock their neck in or time was wasted with multiple tries.

A second single-file alley way was included in the project, leading to a breeding box. This will allow three cows to be restrained at one time during breeding, allowing multiple students to learn breeding skills at one time.

For students

ATI made several modifications to the design to make it better suited to the college’s teaching mission, including a large, covered working area that accommodates a large number of students, an automatic waterer, which allows the cattle to remain at the facility for a longer period of time (compared to a typical commercial facility), and a separate alley for breeding.

“This facility was designed with an educational mission as its primary aspect,” said Public Relations Coordinator Frances Whited, “so some things that happen here might not necessarily happen at a facility that’s more production oriented.”

The older squeeze chute will still be used, but students are excited to use the new one.

“It’s such a great experience for the students to be able to use this (new hydraulic squeeze chute),” said sophomore Ashley Lewis of Seville.

Lewis said most big cattle corporations have this type of equipment and having this knowledge is a bonus for them when they graduate.

Ohio State ATI, located in Wooster, Ohio, is an associate degree granting program within the College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences at Ohio State University.

The new facility is located at 2736 South Apple Creek Road, a half mile from the school’s equine facility.

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