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ARS Home » Plains Area » Lubbock, Texas » Cropping Systems Research Laboratory » Livestock Issues Research » Research » Research Project #433171

Research Project: Nutritional Intervention and Management Strategies to Reduce Stress and Improve Health and Well-being in Cattle and Swine

Location: Livestock Issues Research

2021 Annual Report

Objective 1: Determine management strategies to reduce the incidence and severity of bovine respiratory disease. • Sub-Objective 1.A. Utilize nutritional prophylactic supplements in dairy calves to mitigate the negative effects of bovine respiratory disease on cattle health and well-being. • Sub-Objective 1.B. Study the interactive effects of different management systems and vaccine administration protocols on respiratory disease development and severity in beef cattle. Objective 2: Identify nutritional strategies to mitigate the impacts of pathogen exposure on immunity and overall well-being. • Sub-Objective 2.A. Utilize prebiotic, probiotic and paraprobiotic supplements to mitigate pathogen colonization, migration, and translocation in pigs to promote overall health and well-being. • Sub-Objective 2.B. Utilize prebiotic, probiotic and paraprobiotic supplements to mitigate Salmonella pathogenesis and its negative impacts on overall well-being in dairy calves. Objective 3: Reduce the incidence and severity of liver abscesses in cattle. • Sub-Objective 3.A. Develop a reliable and repeatable experimental model to study liver abscesses in cattle. • Sub-Objective 3.B. Utilize prebiotic, probiotic and paraprobiotic supplements as a means to reduce the incidence and severity of liver abscesses in cattle.

As methods to improve productivity in livestock continue to make progress, efforts associated with improving health and well-being must also continue to be a main objective. In this Project Plan, the term “well-being” is being used as a catch-all term for the absence of sub-clinical disease, reduced indicators of stress and inflammation, and improved thriftiness of the animal. Issues barring the way of progress include understanding the pathogenesis of diseases and how stress influences pathogens/diseases, immunity, and overall well-being. Developing models to study stressors, pathogens/diseases, and viable managerial solutions for combating diseases is essential for improving livestock productivity and well-being. Bovine respiratory disease (BRD) and liver abscesses in cattle and salmonellosis in dairy calves and swine cost producers over $5 billion annually. Objective 1 will address the use of nutritional prophylactic supplements and vaccination strategies to reduce the incidence and severity of BRD in cattle. Novel, non-antibiotic compounds have been developed that may improve productivity and well-being while alleviating the negative impacts of disease without the use of consumer scrutinized pharmaceuticals. Objective 2 will evaluate the potential benefit of non-antibiotic supplements to reduce pathogen colonization, migration, and translocation in pigs and dairy calves. In Objective 3, we will develop a reliable and repeatable “real world” experimental liver abscess model to evaluate intervention strategies to improve animal well-being, and reduce economic losses. Discovery and evaluation of non-antibiotic alternatives that reduce economic losses and the negative impacts of stressors and diseases on overall well-being in livestock will be beneficial for producers, consumers, and the production animals themselves.

Progress Report
In year four of the project plan, researchers in Lubbock, Texas, conducted five studies that will provide substantial information to swine and cattle producers in order to help them reduce the negative impacts of stress and disease on animal health and performance. For Sub-objective 1A, Lubbock scientists, in collaboration with university and industry partners, studied whether feeding beef cattle an amino acid supplement would reduce the immune response to a pathogenic toxin (i.e., endotoxin). Initial data from this study suggests that cattle fed the amino acid supplement drank water more frequently, displayed less sickness behavior and had reduced inflammation in response to the endotoxin. This suggests that supplementing weaned calves with an amino acid supplement may improve the immune response and shorten the subsequent recovery period following a disease challenge. Shortening the recovery period could save U.S. beef producers millions of dollars annually. Additionally, results from this study have provided evidence for a link between immune activation and oxidative stress, which suggests a potential relationship between disease and meat quality. Further, preliminary data from this study suggest there is a strong relationship between rectal temperature and eye temperature measured using a specialized infrared camera. Data analysis continues on this project, with follow-up studies planned for fiscal year (FY) 22. A study was also initiated with collaborating scientists from university partners under Sub-objective 1B. For this study, the influence of different antibiotic administration protocols was assessed. Initial data from this study found that the typical seasonal pattern of Salmonella prevalence within fecal samples was not observed, as upwards of 90% of cattle were reported to be shedding Salmonella in early spring, a time period not typically associated with Salmonella infections in cattle. Many aspects of this study remain to be analyzed, and the project is on-going. For Sub-objective 2A, Lubbock scientists collaborated with a university partner to determine the influence of various activated charcoal and clay products on the ability to reduce disease and inflammation within the gut. Activated charcoal and clay products were either directly fed (clay products to weaned pigs) or were administered directly into the small intestine (charcoal and clay products in dairy calves). Preliminary data from these studies suggests that activated charcoal and clay products may be able to bind bacteria and reduce inflammation within the gut; however, additional analysis continues on these projects. Under Sub-objective 2B, a study was conducted in collaboration with university and industry researchers to determine if feeding a spore-producing probiotic supplement would improve cattle performance while reducing the amount of Salmonella in feces and residing in lymph nodes. The results of this study found no benefit to feeding the probiotic supplement on cattle performance. Additionally, little Salmonella was found in fecal or lymph node samples, which may be due to the fact that the calves utilized for the study were located in the Northern High Plains of the U.S., where Salmonella appears to be less prevalent. A follow-up study on the geographical influence of Salmonella prevalence is planned for FY 22.

1. Rapid eye temperature measurement to evaluate animal health. Rapid temperature measurement using forehead thermometers has become normal practice for humans, but what about rapid temperature measurement for cattle? Current practice relies on manually measuring rectal temperature which can be time-consuming. Thus, developing a rapid method to measure body temperature to determine cattle health status is a critical need for the industry and may decrease antimicrobial use. ARS scientists in Lubbock, Texas, and university collaborators studied whether infrared ocular thermography, measuring the temperature of the eye, could be used to detect fever in sick cattle. Results from this study indicated that infrared ocular thermography could indeed be used to rapidly detect fever in cattle in less than 30 seconds. Also, eye temperature was highly correlated with rectal temperature measured in the same cattle. Having a rapid method for detecting fever in cattle will allow for high-throughput phenotyping of cattle when processed through production facilities, thus improving cattle management practices and ultimately cattle well-being and productivity.

2. Cattle sickness impacts meat quality. Sickness can damage muscle and other tissues in the body, due to imbalances in antioxidants (i.e., oxidative stress). Linking prior animal health to meat quality could prove to be invaluable to livestock producers and consumers. Specifically, knowing how long to potentially keep animals onsite after they experience sickness to ensure that the best quality of their meat would improve the quality of meat products sold to consumers. ARS scientists in Lubbock, Texas, and university collaborators evaluated oxidative stress in cattle exposed to a pathogenic toxin. Results from this study found that when sick, cattle lack the ability to neutralize oxidative stress, thus increasing muscle damage and potentially reducing the quality of meat from those cattle. Continued research is needed to explore the timeframe associated with cattle recovery from oxidative stress, and at what point after sickness is meat quality no longer impacted.

3. Amino acid supplement reduces inflammation in beef calves. Healthy cattle can return producers an additional $100 per head compared to cattle that become sick in the feedlot. Thus, improving cattle health is very important for maintaining cattle growth and well-being. ARS scientists in Lubbock, Texas, designed a study to test whether feeding beef cattle a methionine supplement would benefit cattle when exposed to disease. Methionine, important for building proteins, was fed for three weeks before cattle were given a pathogenic toxin. Scientists found that cattle fed the methionine supplement had fewer visual signs of illness and their body produced less inflammation in response to endotoxin. Reducing inflammation may prevent damage to otherwise healthy tissue. Therefore, cattle fed methionine may be better prepared for an infection, providing benefits to the producer and cattle well-being.

Review Publications
Sanchez, N.C., Carroll, J.A., Broadway, P.R., Edrington, T., Yoon, I., Belknap, C.R. 2020. Some aspects of the acute phase immune response to a lipopolysaccharide (LPS) challenge are mitigated by supplementation with a Saccharomyces cerevisiae fermentation product in weaned beef calves. Translational Animal Science. Article txaa156.
Sanchez, N.C., Broadway, P.R., Carroll, J.A. 2021. Influence of yeast products on modulating metabolism and immunity in cattle and swine. Animals. 11(2):371.
Broadway, P.R., Carroll, J.A., Sanchez, N.C., Word, A.B., Roberts, S.L., Kaufman, E.L., Richeson, J.T., Brown, M.S., Ridenour, K. 2021. Zinc source and concentration altered physiological responses of beef heifers during a combined viral-bacterial respiratory challenge. Animals. 11(3):646.
Smith, Z.K., Broadway, P.R., Sanchez, N.C., Carroll, J.A., Lafleu, D., Hergenreder, E.E. 2021. Evaluation of Bacillus subtilis PB6 probiotic (CLOSTAT®500) on feedlot phase growth performance, efficiency of dietary net energy utilization, and fecal and subiliac lymph node Salmonella prevalence in spring placement yearling beef steers fed in southeastern South Dakota. Translational Animal Science. 5(1):txab002. PMID:33604519; PMCID: PMC7881255.
Broadway, P.R., Brooks, C.J., Mollenkopf, D.M., Calle, A.M., Loneragan, G.H., Miller, M.F., Carroll, J.A., Sanchez, N.C., Wittum, T.E. 2021. Prevalence and antimicrobial susceptibility of Salmonella serovars isolated from U.S. retail ground pork. Foodborne Pathogens and Disease. 18(5):364-365.
Carroll, J.A., Sanchez, N.C., Broadway, P.R., Silva, G.M., Ranches, J., Warren, J., Arthington, J.D., Lancaster, P.A., Moriel, P. 2021. Prenatal immune stimulation alters the postnatal acute phase and metabolic responses to an endotoxin challenge in weaned beef heifers. Translational Animal Science. 5(3).