Temple Grandin helps ranch expand humane certification

SALEM, Ohio — Temple Grandin, renowned author, livestock facilities designer and proponent of animal well-being, is lending her name to a labeling program that guarantees sustainability and humane animal treatment.

Grandin unveiled the program, which she’s calling Dr. Temple Grandin Certified, Sustainable & Humane, in early February.

It applies only to the Niman Ranch line of branded meats and is Grandin’s way of making that company’s production standards easier for its network of growers to understand.

The label itself will assure consumers that producers were following the guidelines.

A hard look

The one-of-a-kind certification program combines evaluation of both sustainable and humane practices and was created on the belief that animals should be treated with respect and allowed to fulfill their instinctive natural behaviors without damaging their environment.

Program criteria include:

• Animals must be given the opportunity to care for, interact with and nurture their young. In the case of swine, farrowing crates are not allowed.

• Practices must be implemented that prevent soil loss or degradation in production areas, minimizes unacceptable or unintended poor air quality for family, workers, and neighbors, and prevents water quality degradation of surface and groundwater resources.

• Animals must be fed a 100 percent vegetarian diet and have a feeding plan that will guarantee a diet to appropriately meet their nutritional needs at their stage in life and maintain required Body Condition Scores. Animals shall have access to their feed as long as is necessary for them to satisfy their nutrient requirements.

• Pasture and/or bedding are the preferred environments. To qualify as pasture, 75 percent or more of the land occupied by livestock in this program must have vegetation with a root system.

It’s not personal

“My approval of Niman Ranch guidelines was from an auditing standpoint, and not my personal opinion standpoint,” Grandin said in a prepared statement after news of the program caused confusion over her involvement.

For example, Grandin said her personal opinion on housing for pigs and use of antibiotics and growth promotants is much more moderate.

“I work with both sectors,” she said, pointing to conventional farming as well as niche, natural and organic production. “I will work as a consultant with both sectors to help them state their guidelines clearly and implement effective auditing programs. This is important so that the consumers of both conventional or niche/natural/organic products will get the products that are stated on their label.”

Next up

The next step for Niman is to clarify species-specific guidelines, and set up an auditing system.

Niman Ranch will be the first company to be audited to carry the certification seal for their humanely and sustainably raised natural beef, pork, lamb and chicken.

Niman’s network of more than 650 family farmers and ranchers raise their animals on a 100 percent vegetarian diet and they never use antibiotics or hormones.

About the Author

Former staff reporter Andrea Zippay wrote for Farm and Dairy from 2001 to 2009. More Stories by Andrea Zippay

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