The Ohio State University Agricultural Technical Institute (ATI) this month dedicated a new beef cattle handling facility that will offer students and beef producers the most up-to-date instruction on animal handling.
 
ATI worked with Grandin Livestock Handling Systems, Inc. of Fort Collins, CO, to construct the facility that was designed by renowned animal behaviorist Temple Grandin. The new facility is designed to meet the needs of both Ohio State ATI and beef producers around Ohio. The progressive design includes a corral, a dual chute system with a hydraulic squeeze chute and breeding box, and sorting pens.
 
One of the distinctive features of Grandin's design is a system of curved chutes combined with a round crowd pen. The tendency of cattle when herded is to move back in the direction they came from. The round pen moves the cattle through a 180-degree turn, thus working with, rather than against, their natural behavior.
 
The curved chutes allow the cattle to see two or three animal lengths ahead, which is important because, according to Grandin, "Cattle will refuse to go somewhere if they can't see a place to go." The curved design also conceals livestock handlers, whose presence might make cattle balk. These measures reduce the amount of stress cattle experience during handling.
 
Each year, approximately 45 students are welcomed into one of two beef cattle programs at Ohio State ATI -- associate of applied science in livestock management and associate of science in livestock science. Students enrolled in these programs are preparing themselves for careers in beef production and associated industries, with many of them striving to be progressive beef cattle managers.
 
With the new facility, the Ohio State ATI beef programs are teaching students more about safe animal handling and the benefits of designing livestock handling facilities based on animal behavior rather than human convenience.
 
"Efficiency, humane handling and animal welfare are essential components of any beef operation," says Mark Schleppi, ATI director of farm operations. "This design will facilitate each of these."
 
In addition to teaching the next generation of beef producers with this new working facility, ATI also hopes to welcome current beef industry members to learn more about beef cattle handling through training that will be offered to industry through ATI's Business Training and Educational Services.
 
The facility is located off Apple Creek Road in Wooster, OH.
 
ATI is an associate degree-granting program within Ohio State's College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences. Ohio State ATI is the largest institution of its kind in the U.S., enrolling approximately 650 students and offering 34 programs of study. It is ranked No. 1 in the nation in the production of associate degrees in agriculture and related sciences.