Livestock facility expert Temple Grandin visits Seaboard Triumph

December 21, 2017 GMT

SIOUX CITY | The woman who contributed to the design of the stockyards at Seaboard Triumph Foods was able to see her own handiwork in person for the first time Wednesday.

Temple Grandin, a nationally renowned animal welfare experts who holds a doctorate in animal sciences and teaches at Colorado State University, visited the $301 million pork plant in Sioux City’s Bridgeport West Business Park as a guest of the company.

“We are going to do the rest of the plant tomorrow but we did the live animal handling and it was really good,” Grandin said. “They’ve really built a nice facility. Really nice unloading bays where you can unload an entire truck inside the building and they’ve got seven loading bays so you’re not going to wind up waiting. That’s really, really good for pig welfare. It’s a first-class facility.”

Grandin travels the globe to help design livestock facilities and has written two New York Times Best Sellers about animal welfare.

She got her start in the livestock industry by doing internships at various Arizona stockyards in the 1970s.

Mark Porter, STF’s chief operating officer, noted Grandin is well-connected in the pork industry, which is how they are able to use her expertise in the design of the state-of-the-art 925,000-square-foot plant.

Grandin previously worked with the pork producers parent companies. STF is 50-50 venture between Guymon, Oklahoma-based Seaboard Foods and St. Joseph, Missouri-based Triumph Foods.

“With that very strong and long relationship, as the design was coming together specific to the stockyards and hog receiving, the design engineers asked Temple to look at it and offer some input and advice,” Porter said. “That’s becoming pretty common in the industry to ask Dr. Grandin her thoughts in terms of the latest and greatest in animal welfare.”

An additional claim to fame for Grandin is that she has Autism and has become a major advocate for those with the disability.

In 2010, HBO released a movie based on her life called “Temple Grandin” in which she was portrayed by Claire Danes. The movie received 15 Primetime Emmy nominations and won seven awards.

According to Porter, Grandin’s suggestions that were implemented at STF were more lighting to prevent shadows, a level floor and pins with no right angles; just curves to guide hogs through the receiving area.

“That all lends itself to improved humane handling, improved humane handling of the hogs and just the best possible experience,” Porter said. “We get the hog moved with the least amount of stress.”

About 10,000 pigs per day can be processed daily at STF, a figure that will more than double when the plant launches a second shift next summer that will eventually push its workforce above 2,000 employees.

“The thing that they did right compared to other places I’ve worked with is that they provided enough space in the building and didn’t try to stuff the design into a space that’s too small,” Grandin said.