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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

2022 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
This will serve as the final report for this project as it terminates in 2022 and will be replaced with a new project (3096-32000-009-000D). Throughout this project plan, scientists in Lubbock, Texas, have conducted over 26 studies. These studies have utilized various models, such as endotoxin, Salmonella, stress, and respiratory disease challenges to study and develop strategies for producers to combat disease and stressors negatively impacting cattle and swine production and well-being. For Objective 1, probiotic and amino acid products were applied to diets to improve cattle well-being and reduce incidence of disease. While each product that was evaluated differentially changed biological markers of interest, overall results from these studies found some of these products had the ability to reduce inflammation and quicken recovery when the immune system was stimulated using endotoxin or our Bovine Respiratory Disease (BRD) model. Data generated from these studies led to the re-development of a nutritional supplement blend that is now incorporated into a commercial feed that is fed to over 2 million cattle annually. For Sub-objective 1B, various management approaches were studied in order to determine better practices for reducing incidence of Bovine Respiratory Disease, which costs producers upwards of $1 billion dollars each year. These projects studied various vaccine and antibiotic treatment applications in beef cattle in order to improve cattle well-being and reduce the incidence of BRD in cattle. These studies indicated that application of a topical anti-inflammatory product can reduce fever associated with BRD. Based on these data, use of the topical anti-inflammatory product has been promoted for use in beef cattle as an easier treatment method to reduce inflammation in cattle throughout the U.S. Additionally under Sub-objective 1B, natural factors such as weather and cattle sex (steers versus heifers) were evaluated to determine their influence on susceptibility to Bovine Respiratory Disease. These studies found that while heifers may be initially more resilient to BRD compared to steers, they may produce a delayed response to infection. Thus, producers are encouraged to consider animal sex when evaluating cattle for signs of sickness. Contrary to current dogma, it was found that ambient temperature and drastic daily swings in temperature did not have a strong influence on the reported incidence of illness nor mortality in the feedlot. However, stocking density was correlated with changes in animal health. For Objective 2, studies were conducted utilizing beta-glucan, a bacterial probiotic, activated charcoal, and ceramic clay products in the diets of dairy calves and weaned pigs. These studies aimed to reduce inflammation associated with endotoxin and Salmonella. Initial results from these studies found that these products were able to significantly reduce inflammation and gut tissue damage in both dairy calves and swine in response to inflammation. Specifically, for the bacterial probiotic, data from the study found that this product significantly reduced Salmonella found within various gut tissues by over 90%. Based on these data, this product is now being incorporated into the diets of over 1 million head of feedlot cattle and dairy calves across the U.S. Additionally, studies utilizing activated charcoal and ceramic clay found that these products may be viable alternatives to antibiotics in order to reduce inflammation and potentially bind pathogenic bacteria within the gut, thereby improving animal performance and well-being. However, further research is needed using these products in larger scale studies. Under Sub-objective 2B, the effect of immune suppression on movement of Salmonella outside the gut was evaluated. Calves that experienced immune suppression were found to have greater amounts of Salmonella contamination in products consumed by humans. These data add to information about the role of stress and illness on the movement of Salmonella outside the gut and highlights the potential impact of sick animals on food safety. For Sub-objective 3A, two studies aimed to model the natural development of liver abscesses in dairy calves. The first approach utilized endotoxin followed by oral administration of a mixture of bacteria typically found in liver abscesses. Unfortunately, this approach did not result in any liver abscesses at harvest. The second approach utilized changes in diet and oral administration of bacteria. Results from the second study found 57% of calves in this treatment group formed at least one liver abscess. Thus, these data indicate that diet may play a role in predisposing cattle to liver abscesses by making them more susceptible to naturally occurring bacteria in the gut. This model appears to parallel natural development of liver abscesses in comparison to other models that have been attempted. Further evaluation of the model will continue in the next project plan to assure reliability and repeatability. For Sub-objective 3B, an initial study was conducted utilizing a beta-glucan product that was identified in Objective 2. Data from this study is being analyzed and will be continued in the next project plan. From all studies conducted during this project plan cycle, over 90% of the data has been analyzed, and over 75% of the data has been submitted or accepted for publication.

1. Probiotic reduces Salmonella in feedlot cattle. Salmonella is a commonly occurring bacteria in cattle with significant food safety concerns. Salmonella can reside within tissues, making it difficult to remove during harvest and processing. Thus, methods to reduce Salmonella prior to harvest are important to cattle producers and consumers. ARS scientists in Lubbock, Texas, along with university and industry collaborators evaluated the use of a commercially available Bacillus subtilis on beef cattle performance and Salmonella in manure and lymph nodes. Results from this study found the probiotic reduced sickness in cattle by 23% and reduced Salmonella in lymph nodes by 46%. These data suggest that supplementation of this probiotic may have significant benefits on beef cattle health and well-being while also reducing food safety concerns associated with Salmonella in beef products. Based on this study, this product is now being incorporated into the diets of over 1 million head of feedlot cattle across the Southern Plains.

2. Modeling liver abscesses to reduce antibiotic usage in cattle. Liver abscesses in beef and dairy cattle are a major concern in the beef industry and cost packers and producers $60 million dollars annually. Current models are invasive, involving bacteria injected into the liver, and do not mimic what happens naturally in the live animal. Thus, ARS scientists in Lubbock, Texas, and university collaborators worked to develop a real-world liver abscess model that more closely aligns with the natural development of abscesses in cattle. Scientists altered diet and orally infused calves with naturally occurring bacteria linked to liver abscess formation. This study resulted in 57% of calves developing at least one liver abscess. There are significant implications for these results for both researchers, industry partners and producers. This model can be used to further study liver abscess formation and can be used to test non-antibiotic products that may be able to reduce the formation of liver abscesses, thus saving the cattle industry millions of dollars each year and ultimately reducing antibiotic usage.

3. Less invasive method for fever detection in pigs. Increased body temperature is a key sign of illness in livestock and can also be used to detect differences in stress responses and differences due to breed and sex. Finding a reliable method of measuring body temperature that provides accurate and timely data is very important to swine research. Current methods for measuring body temperature in pigs are either infrequent or invasive. Therefore, ARS scientists in Lubbock, Texas, and university collaborators sought to find a less invasive alternative for measuring body temperature. Specifically, scientists compared abdominal cavity temperature with temperature measured under the skin in weaned pigs. Results from this study suggest that temperature measured under the skin in between the abdomen and the hind leg can be an alternative to more invasive methods. This refined method can provide an important tool to researchers and health professionals replacing a more invasive method to reduce stress and improve swine well-being.

Review Publications
Englishbey, A.K., Vu, P.T., Thuc, Y., Sukumaran, A.T., Le, M., Nguyen, D., Broadway, P.R., Guillen, L.M., Brashears, M.M., Donaldson, J.R., Schilling, M.W., Rude, B.J., Crenshaw, M.A., Dinh, T. 2022. Influence of market type and time of purchase on bacterial counts and Salmonella and Listeria prevalence in chicken in Vietnam. Meat and Muscle Biology. 6(1). Article 12933.
Davis, E.M., Wallace, K.P., Cruz-Penn, M.J., Petry, A.L., Broadway, P.R., Sanchez, N.C., Carroll, J.A., Ballou, M.A. 2022. A dose response investigation of a micronized porous ceramic particle to improve the health and performance of post-weaned pigs infected with Salmonella enterica serotype Typhimurium. Frontiers in Animal Science. 3.
Moriel, P., Palmer, E.A., Oliveira, R.A., Vedovatto, M., Izquierdo, V.S., Silva, H.M., Garzon, J., Dailey, J.W., Carroll, J.A., Sanchez, N.C., Martins, T., Binelli, M., Vendramini, J.M. 2022. Stair step strategy and immunomodulatory feed ingredient supplementation for grazing heat-stressed Bos indicus-influenced beef heifers. Journal of Animal Science. 100(4).
Davis, E.M., Liang, Y., Wallace, K.P., Zimmerman, A.J., Siebecker, M.G., Broadway, P.R., Carroll, J.A., Ballou, M.A. 2022. A porous ceramic particle with or without a preservative blend did not impair apparent digestibility of macro- and micro-nutrients of post-weaned pigs. Translational Animal Science. 6(3).