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Farm Animal Behavior Becoming More Critical to the Bottom LineBy Don Comis
September 7, 2000
Take away a steers right to a good sundown grazing and youll have a fight on your hands.
Thats what Agricultural Research Service animal behaviorist Julie Morrow-Tesch found during periodic 24-hour surveillances of cattle pens in one of the numerous feedlots that hold a total of 6 million head of cattle in the Texas Panhandle.
Morrow-Tesch, who studies animal behavior and physiology with ARS in Lubbock, Texas, found that feeding cattle just before sunset--instead of the usual morning meals--cut the number of aggressive incidents by almost half.
These evening melees cost feedlots $70 a head, on average, in injuries and could cost more in U.S. Environmental Protection Agency fines because pushing and shoving can raise dust levels above allowable limits. The free-for-alls are a substitute for cattles instinctive twilight grazing.
The study of applied animal behavior is fairly new to agriculturalists. It has given rise to ARS national program on animal well-being, begun in 1994. ARS is the chief scientific agency in the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
Morrow-Tesch will describe her research at the 24th annual Beltsville Symposium, Healthy Animals, September 10-12 in Beltsville, Md. View the full program on the Internet at:
She will discuss other examples of her research, including how:
Other symposium presenters will discuss relationships between animal well-being and food safety, including how World Trade Organization rules may affect U.S. livestock-raising practices.