UBC Farm welcomed some special visitors this past Spring. Two Belted Galloway cattle arrived in mid-April, thanks to a directed-studies project by UBC Farm Administrative Coordinator and Agroecology undergrad, Natalie Yuen. The project involved designing and implementing a rotational grazing management system in a spare field at the UBC Farm.
“This project is a good marriage between my interests in animal welfare and agroecology,” says Yuen.
The cattle were borrowed from Harold Steves, a former school teacher and local politician who owns a family-farm in Richmond. Belted Galloways are a rare breed of beef cattle that originated in Scotland. Black with a white band around their middle, they have a long, hairy coat and weigh an average of about 1,800 lbs.
For Yuen, an enormous personal highlight of the project was the opportunity to meet world-renowned animal scientist Dr. Temple Grandin. Yuen studied Dr. Grandin’s work while doing research and subsequently became a huge fan.
Born autistic, Dr. Grandin is a successful livestock-handling equipment designer and Professor of Animal Science at Colorado State University. She was recently named one of Time Magazine’s 100 Most Influential People in the World for her work to improve the lives of beef cattle and was also the subject of the 2010 HBO biopic Temple Grandin. On June 19, 2010, Dr. Grandin was in Vancouver to give a sold-out SPCA-sponsored lecture based on her book “Animals Make us Human” and Yuen arranged for her to visit the Farm to see her project.
“Having Dr. Grandin visit the Farm meant everything to me. She’s done so much for the well being of all animals, especially cattle,” says Yuen. “Meeting your hero is something that few people ever get to experience, so I feel very lucky.”
Yuen will mimic the Belted Galloway Project on a larger scale next year by integrating cattle into the UBC Farm’s annual crop rotation as a Master’s student in the Integrated Studies in Land and Food Systems program.