Grandin to appear on ‘Virginia Farming’

For those who missed her speak at the sold-out 2011 Winter Forage Conferences last week, Temple Grandin—a best-selling author and the focus of a Golden Globe and Emmy award-winning HBO biopic—will appear on two episodes of WVPT’s “Virginia Farming,” airing at 7:30 PM on Friday, Jan. 28 and Feb. 4.

The episodes, taped back-to-back on Jan. 20, feature an extended two-part interview with Grandin.

Claire Danes won a Golden Globe Jan. 16 for “Best Actress in a Mini-series or Motion Picture Made for Television” for her portrayal of the 63-year-old animal behavior expert and livestock facility designer in the HBO movie “Temple Grandin.”

The movie won seven Emmy awards in 2010.

Grandin, who is autistic and holds a Ph.D. in animal science, is credited with revolutionizing the livestock industry. In her career spanning more than 35 years, she improved standards in feedlots and slaughterhouses worldwide to reduce stress and upgrade the quality of life for cattle and pigs.

“Virginia Farming” Host Jeff Ishee invited Grandin on the show to hear her thoughts on how farmers in Virginia can make their livestock operations more humane.

“This will be a very unique opportunity to hear from someone of Temple’s stature and recognition,” Ishee said. “All of our guests are associated with local agriculture, but she is a talent on a much larger stage. It will be great for her to share her expertise with our audience.”

Grandin served as the keynote speaker at the Winter Forage Conferences last week, which took place Jan. 18-20 in Wytheville, Lynchburg and Weyers Cave.

The conferences, organized by the Virginia Forage and Grassland Council and Virginia Cooperative Extension, were centered on cattle and aimed at helping livestock producers gain a better understanding of animal psychology and behavior.

Ishee said “Virginia Farming” viewers, as well as the livestock industry in general, can learn a lot from Grandin. He is also interested in what she might have to offer the poultry industry.

“She hasn’t worked extensively with the poultry industry, but I’d also like to ask her what improvements could be made there,” Ishee said. “There is a lot in the media about inhumane housing [for chickens], and I’d like to know if she has any suggestions for that area as well.”

Perhaps most well-known for her curved cattle shoot design, Grandin has also produced unique plans for truck loading ramps and diagonal stockyard pens. Slaughterhouses in the U.S. as well in Canada, Mexico, New Zealand, Australia and Europe use her designs.

Time magazine named Grandin one of the 100 most influential people of 2010.

Grandin is also recognized for her contributions to autism research, including a “hugging machine” she invented as a teenager to relieve her own anxiety—the idea came to her from watching cows go through squeeze shoots on a ranch.

Ishee, who has three autistic nephews, said Grandin opened his eyes to a whole new world of understanding when it comes to autism.

“I hope our audience can appreciate the challenges she faced as a child and the obstacles she overcame to become such an influential person today,” he said. “She has gained a lot of my respect in that regard.”

Grandin is currently a professor of animal science at Colorado State University. Her memoir “Thinking in Pictures” is one of more than 10 books she has written on the subjects of autism, animal behavior, animal welfare and the best practices in livestock handling and transport.

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