Location: Livestock Issues ResearchTitle: Historical view of stocker health and performance of southeast origin cattle
Submitted to: Journal of Animal Science Supplement
Publication Type: Abstract Only
Publication Acceptance Date: 11/14/2018
Publication Date: 7/29/2019
Citation: Carroll, J.A., Broadway, P.R., Sanchez, N.C., Nichols, W.T. 2019. Historical view of stocker health and performance of southeast origin cattle. Journal of Animal Science Supplement. 97(Suppl. 1):24.
Technical Abstract: Anecdotal evidence suggests that weaning/stocker weights, Average dailey gain(ADG) and carcass weights have increased for Southeast cattle over the last 30 years. Simultaneously, morbidity and mortality have not improved, and according to some reports have significantly increased. Albeit, over the last 30 years, there have been several new vaccines and antibiotics introduced into the beef cattle market. Ceteris paribus, there appears to be a discrepancy related to prevailing theories that placing heavier cattle into stocker and feedlot operations reduces the incidence of morbidity and mortality. But, has there truly been an increase in the placement weights of stocker and feedlot calves over the last 30 years? Perhaps, even with greater genetic selection by cow/calf producers for improved weaning weights and pre-weaning ADG, the genetic potential of these animals is not being realized until the stocker/feedlot sector. Indeed, Engler et al. (2014) reported that hot carcass weight has increased 4.9 lbs per year from 2001 to 2013 while others have reported no actual increase in weaning weights during this period. While there is no doubt the carcass weights have increased, the contributing factors are multifaceted including genetic selection for increased lean deposition, better nutritional programs, and the introduction of more growth promoting implants, ionophores and beta agonists. Likewise, morbidity and mortality are multifaceted manifestations of a variety of inputs including genetics, nutrition, environmental stressors, immunocompetence, and the prevalence and genetic makeup of pathogens. Therefore, while genetic selection for increased preweaning performance may be more prevalent, cow/calf producers may not be reaping the full potential of their calves due to management practices that do not capitalize on the genetic potential of the pre-weaned calf. Placing more emphasis on genetic selection for pre-weaning growth may have inadvertently resulted in calves that are less resistant to the stresses and strains associated with post-weaning production systems.