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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Research Project: CHARACTERIZING AND MANAGING ANIMAL STRESS/WELL-BEING IN LIVESTOCK PRODUCTION Title: Water spray cooling during handling of feedlot cattle

Authors
item Brown Brandl, Tami
item Eigenberg, Roger
item Nienaber, John

Submitted to: International Journal of Biometeorology
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: October 2, 2009
Publication Date: November 1, 2010
Citation: Brown Brandl, T.M., Eigenberg, R.A., Nienaber, J.A. 2010. Water spray cooling during handling of feedlot cattle. International Journal of Biometeorology. 54:609-616.

Interpretive Summary: Moving cattle through a working facility causes body temperature to increase thus increasing stress. A study was conducted to look at wetting animals as a potential avenue to reduce this stress. It was found the animals that had been wetted had a lower body temperature and a quicker recovery. Through visual observations of breathing, it appeared the animals were not as stressed. However, there was no change in animal behavior. Overall, it appeared that wetting animals while they were in the working facility was beneficial.

Technical Abstract: Activities involved in receiving or working (e.g., sorting, dehorning, castration, weighing, implanting, etc.) of feedlot cattle cause an increase in body temperature. During hot weather the increased body temperature may disrupt normal behaviors including eating, which can be especially detrimental to the well-being and performance of the animals. A study was conducted to investigate sprinkle cooling of representative animals at the time of working to provide extra evaporative cooling to offset the added heat produced by activity. Sixty-four cross-bred heifers were randomly assigned to one of eight pens. On four separate occasions, during hot conditions, the heifers were moved from their pens to and from the working facility (a building with a scale and squeeze chute located 160-200 m). While in the squeeze chute, four of the pens of heifers were sprinkle cooled and the remaining four pens were worked as normal. The heifers that were treated had a body temperature that peaked sooner with a lower peak body temperature, and recovered sooner. The treated animals also had a lower panting score. The behavior measurements that were taken did not indicate a change in behavior. It was concluded that sprinkle cooling feedlot cattle during a working event in hot weather was beneficial.

Last Modified: 7/25/2014
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