The story of Temple Grandin is an inspirational one. She has invented many of the animal handling devices in the world today and her focus was on the humane treatment of animals while being contained. She did all of this work despite having a diagnosis on the autism spectrum disorder. Grandin, in fact, didn’t even speak her first words until she was almost four years old. Yet the struggles she had with her autism fueled her work as an inventor and helped to transform an industry that she loved so much.
She currently teaches at Colorado State University as an animal sciences professor, furthering her work to reduce fear and stress in animals. Here is an overview of her inventions.
An Innovative Restraint System for Cattle
Many of the initial livestock restraint systems on farms were built around being strong and having brute force applied to the animal to keep it in place. Grandin took the system that was used at the time and changed it so that it could reduce animal injuries and stress. Not only does stress affect the performance of milking cows, for example, but cattle that get excited can be very difficult to handle and her design helps to keep the animals comfortable and relaxed while having enough space to be able to adequately function.
The initial designs of handling livestock in facilities was based off of how people needed livestock to move. Grandin turned these designs around by incorporating handling facilities that are based off of how cattle and other livestock tend to naturally operate. That’s why you’ll see gated facilities that have cattle moving in multiple directions, because cows tend to want to go back the way they came. These chutes allow for more comfortable livestock, fewer injuries, and easier transportation.
Another innovation that she used in livestock handling is the curved cattle chute. This also enhances the way that livestock tend to move and these designs were also transitioned into loading ramps and trucks to prevent unnecessary stress from occurring.
The Diagonal Pen
Most livestock pens before Dr. Grandin were either square, circle, or sometimes octagonal in shape. Her invention of the diagonal pen prevents livestock from bunching into the natural corners of these pens or congregating in the middle of the pen.
The Hug Machine
Grandin might have a love for animals, but she also has a passion to help those who have a similar diagnosis to her. To that effect, her invention of the hug machine places individuals into a deep-pressure device that will help to calm them down. It’s an effective way to reduce anxiety and Grandin even used one for several years until she grew comfortable hugging others instead.
The work of Dr. Temple Grandin has given inspiration and hope to numerous families that have encountered with the challenges of autism. She continues to amaze people with her visual thinking skills, so who knows what she may continue to invent in the coming days.