Wednesday, January 11, 2012


"Humane slaughterhouse" may sound like an oxymoron, but Temple Grandin has made it her specialty.  She has found that her autism gives her special insight into the way animals think, because apparently autistic humans and animals have some brain similarities that cause them to see too much detail rather than the big picture.  Consequently, a cow can become nervous about reflective puddles, stray paper cups, yellow raincoats, and changes in light intensity.  Her checklist for rating a slaughterhouse has only a handful of items, all measurable and all related to animal handling, not construction and layout.  This book is chock-full of information about how animals think and behave and how to know if an animal is going to be smart and flighty or dim and calm.  (Hint:  We now refer to our cat as a low-fear, big-boned girl.)  Oddly enough, high-fear animals are also more curious and will cautiously check out new items in their environments.  And it should be obvious, but it's somehow counterintuitive that bigger animals, such as cows and horses, are prey animals, and they have different behavior motivations from predators, such as dogs and cats.  Some of the most fascinating passages had to do with selective breeding, which can have unexpected negative results, such as belligerent roosters and less intelligent collies.

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