Transferring results of behavioral research to industry to improve animal welfare on the farm, ranch and the slaughter plant
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Knowledge learned from research has been effectively transferred to the agricultural industry in some areas and poorly transferred in others. Knowledge that has been used to create a thing such as pharmaceutical or a piece of equipment is more likely to be adopted by industry than a behavioral management technique that reduces stress to improve productivity and welfare. The author has observed during her career that some people will purchase a new cattle handling system which is designed with animal behavioral principles but they will continue to handle cattle roughly. People are more likely to purchase new equipment than use easy to learn low stress techniques for moving cattle. Even when financial benefits are clear, some people find it difficult to believe that a purely behavioral management method will really work. Many studies done during the last twenty years on dairies and pig farms have clearly shown the benefits of good stockmanship on animal productivity. Unfortunately a large segment of the livestock industry has been slow to implement improved stockmanship. I would like to speculate that a possible reason why some people resist learning better stockmanship is because a good stockperson must recognize that an animal is a conscious being that has feelings.