Livestock Behavior and Welfare
Animal health and welfare are critical components of all animal production systems and integral components of all disciplines in the Department of Animal Sciences. There is an ever-growing public interest in how we care for livestock and thus optimizing animal welfare is a priority for our industry stakeholders. Our department has expertise in health, behavior, and welfare for beef cattle, dairy cattle, swine, and horses in order to address many of the industry’s welfare challenges and promote good animal welfare within production systems.
Lily’s research focuses on improving end-of-life decisions for livestock – this could mean developing interventions to minimize stress during the marketing process like loading, transport, unloading for beef cattle or understanding the challenges with making timely euthanasia decisions for dairy cattle.
Two common themes in Lily’s work are elevating the importance of understanding how caretaker perspectives can impact animal welfare outcomes and finding the economic benefits to improving welfare outcomes. Current research focuses on the welfare and meat quality impacts of pre-slaughter management practices of cattle and bison, cattle comfort at slaughter plants, and caretaker perspectives about animal care.
Dr. Grandin’s pioneering early research in the 1990’s was on the effect of cattle temperament during handing on weight gain. Cattle that became severely agitated during handling had lower weight gain and poorer meat quality. This research formed the basis of temperament evaluation in cattle. Cattle today are calmer because they have been selected for many years for temperament. Another major area of her work was developing handling systems for cattle handled in large beef plants. The center track conveyor system she helped develop is now used to handle half of all the cattle in large beef plants. She then went on to develop an objective scoring system for assessing the handling and stunning of cattle and pigs. This scoring system was used to form the Animal Welfare Handling Guide for the American Meat Institute. She then went on to work with McDonald’s Corporation, Wendy’s, and Burger King to develop and implement their welfare auditing programs.
Sarah is passionate about improving the relationship between humans and horses through the promotion of evidence-based practices that best support the horse’s learning style and innate needs. Her previous studies include a Mustang gentling project using positive reinforcement to train feral mustangs and identifying behavioral indicators of stress in horses integrated into human services. Currently, she is working with the Right Horse population at CSU to improve handleability during routine husbandry procedures through the integration of Cooperative Care training. Ultimately, Sarah’s mission is to improve human-animal interactions by helping horse enthusiasts better understand the importance of the science behind equine behavior.