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ARS Home » Plains Area » Lubbock, Texas » Cropping Systems Research Laboratory » Livestock Issues Research » Research » Publications at this Location » Publication #332176

Research Project: Improving Immunity, Health, and Well-Being in Cattle and Swine

Location: Livestock Issues Research

Title: Impact of feed delivery pattern on aerial particulate matter and behavior of feedlot cattle

Author
item MITLOEHNER, F - Texas Tech University
item Morrow, Julie
item Dailey, Jeffery
item MCGLONE, J - Texas Tech University

Submitted to: Animals
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 2/25/2017
Publication Date: 3/1/2017
Citation: Mitloehner, F.M., Morrow, J.L., Dailey, J.W., McGlone, J.J. 2017. Impact of feed delivery pattern on aerial particulate matter and behavior of feedlot cattle. Animals. 7(3):E14. doi:10.3390/ani7030014.

Interpretive Summary: Fine dust particles (less than 2.5 microns) are a human and animal health concern because they can carry microbes and chemicals into the lungs. Dust emitted from cattle feedlots can reach high levels. When feedlot cattle were given an altered feeding schedule (ALT) that more closely reflected their biological feeding times compared with conventional morning feeding (CON), dust generation at peak times was substantially lowered. Average daily dust generation was decreased by 37% when cattle behavior was redirected away from dust-generating behaviors and towards evening feeding behaviors. Behavioral problems such as agonistic (aggressive) and bulling (mounting each other) behaviors also were reduced several fold among ALT compared with CON cattle. Intake of feed was less and daily body weight gain tended to be less with the altered feeding schedule while efficiency of feed utilization was not affected. Although ALT may pose a challenge in feed delivery and labor scheduling, cattle had fewer behavioral problems and reduced dust generation when feed delivery times matched with the natural drive to eat in a crepuscular pattern. The data reported in this study will be of interest to beef cattle feedlot producers.

Technical Abstract: Fine particulate matter (PM) generated by cattle in feedlots is an environmental pollutant and a potential human and animal health issue. The objective of this study was to determine if a feeding schedule affects cattle behaviors that promote PM in a commercial feedlot. The study used 2,813 crossbred steers housed in 14 adjacent pens at a large-scale commercial West Texas feedlot. Treatments were conventional feeding at 0700, 1000, and 1200 (CON) or feeding at 0700, 1000, and 1830 (ALT), the latter feeding time coincided with dusk. A mobile behavior lab was used to quantify behaviors of steers that were associated with generation of PM (e.g., fighting, mounting of peers, and increased locomotion). Particulate-matter monitors measured respirable particles with a mass median diameter of 2.5 microns (PM2.5) every 15 minutes over a period of 16 days in April and May. Simultaneously, the ambient temperature, humidity, wind speed and direction, precipitation, air pressure, and solar radiation were measured with a weather station. Elevated downwind PM concentrations were measured at dusk. At dusk, cattle that were fed according to the ALT vs. the CON feeding schedule demonstrated less PM-generating behaviors (P < 0.05). At dusk, steers on ALT vs. CON feeding schedules ate or were waiting to eat (standing in second row behind feeding cattle) at much greater rates (P < 0.05). Upwind PM concentrations were similar between the treatments. Downwind PM concentrations averaged over 24 hours were lower from ALT compared with CON pens (0.072 vs. 0.115 miligrams/cubic meter, P < 0.01). However, DMI was less (P < 0.05), and average daily gain tended to be less (P < 0.1) in cattle that were fed according to the ALT vs. the CON feeding schedules, whereas gain to feed was not affected. Although ALT feeding may pose a challenge in feed delivery and labor scheduling, cattle exhibited fewer PM-generating behaviors and reduced generation of PM when feed delivery times matched the natural desires of cattle to eat in a crepuscular pattern.