Lifelong passion for animal care and handling earns Temple Grandin national educator award

This story is adapted from a news release by Beef Quality Assurance.

In the 1960s, when Temple Grandin visited her aunt’s ranch in Arizona, it changed the cattle industry for the better. At the young age of 15, she was inspired by that visit and pursued a career in animal science and livestock equipment design. Today, Grandin is an internationally known animal behavior expert, a Colorado State University professor of animal sciences, and now, the winner of the 2019 Beef Quality Assurance Educator Award.

“The thing that I love about Dr. Grandin is that she’s not afraid to be honest. That’s something about her that I really admire,” said Ron Gill, a stockmanship and stewardship expert at Texas A&M University. “She’s been a great conduit for change in the industry, and her passion shows through in everything she does.”

Over the past 45 years, Grandin has been leading the effort for better treatment of livestock. Throughout her career, she has conducted research into the welfare and handling of cattle, working closely with ranchers, feedlots and packers to identify and prevent problems in animal care. Her advice is practical and has helped farmers and ranchers improve their animal care and handling.

“As I got to working with Dr. Grandin, she would teach me things in a ‘common sense’ way that my grandfather tried to teach me. She had a different way of presenting it,” said Curt Pate, a stockmanship expert. “I think she’s done that for the industry, too. Science and common sense.”

Read: Temple Grandin – CSU’s one-of-a-kind mind

Future cattle leaders

That science and common sense has also helped shape the minds of future cattle leaders. Over several decades, Grandin has taught college courses, influencing hundreds of future members of the cattle industry. In her current role as professor of animal sciences, she has continued her research while teaching courses on livestock handling and facility design. Grandin’s facility designs are found throughout North America and around the world. Several meat packers and some of the largest retail chains in the world use the objective scoring system she designed to evaluate the handling of cattle and pigs at meat plants to improve animal welfare.

Grandin will tell you that good handling matters. Many of her research topics are key components of the BQA program. In fact, her input helped shape the BQA program from the beginning.

“Programs such as Beef Quality Assurance are really important for training people,” Grandin said. “BQA has been doing workshops all around the country to get people interested. Recently, I was involved in one of those workshops. We had a lot of ranchers there. I was very happy to see some young ranchers in the audience who were there to learn how to do things the right way.”

“It really goes without saying that Dr. Grandin has changed the way that people think about cattle production, especially when it comes to cattle handling,” said Libby Bigler, BQA coordinator at CSU. “From a BQA perspective, she was doing BQA before BQA was even a program.”

Grandin’s passion for animal welfare is easy to see, and it’s changed the cattle industry for the better. Her efforts have made a major difference in the way that the beef industry handles cattle.

“The industry will always be working on improving,” Grandin said. “Animal handling has gotten so much better. It’s the bright spot. We have a lot of new people coming into the industry, and that is where training programs are extremely important.”

For more information on Temple Grandin and other 2019 BQA Award winners, visit

About Beef Quality Assurance

Beef Quality Assurance (BQA) is a nationally coordinated, state implemented program funded by the Beef Checkoff that provides U.S. beef producers guidelines and certification drawn from common sense husbandry techniques and accepted scientific knowledge on how to raise cattle under optimum management and environmental conditions. BQA reflects a positive public image and instills consumer confidence in the beef industry. When producers implement the best management practices of a BQA program, they assure their cattle are the best they can be. For more information on BQA, visit