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ARS Home » Plains Area » Lubbock, Texas » Cropping Systems Research Laboratory » Livestock Issues Research » Research » Publications at this Location » Publication #369529

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

Location: Livestock Issues Research

Title: Correlation of ambient temperature with feedlot cattle morbidity and mortality in the Texas Panhandle

item Broadway, Paul
item Mauget, Steven
item Sanchez, Nicole
item Carroll, Jeffery - Jeff Carroll

Submitted to: Frontiers in Veterinary Science
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 6/9/2020
Publication Date: 6/9/2020
Citation: Broadway, P.R., Mauget, S.A., Sanchez, N.C., Carroll, J.A. 2020. Correlation of ambient temperature with feedlot cattle morbidity and mortality in the Texas Panhandle. Frontiers in Veterinary Science. 7:413.

Interpretive Summary: Weather patterns such as extreme heat or blizzards is a concern for beef cattle health and well-being. Beef cattle feedlots in the Texas Panhandle are often subject to these weather events that can cause cattle to become ill or even die. Producers also report that they observe more cattle becoming ill in the fall when the temperature fluctuates daily. Scientists from the USDA-ARS Livestock Issues Research Unit along with the Wind Erosion and Water Conservation Research Unit teamed up to determine if there was a link between weather patterns, animal illness, and animal mortality. Results from this study indicate that cattle are more prone to illness or death during the cooler months from November to January. These data also report, overwhelmingly, that most cattle throughout all seasons of the year become sick or die due to a respiratory illness. This novel information is important to beef cattle producers and veterinarians as they work to improve animal health and well-being and gives them an additional tool to anticipate possible illness amongst their cattle.

Technical Abstract: Anecdotal data would suggest that weather patterns influence beef cattle health in feedlots, and cattle producers often associate the seasonality of some illnesses with changes in environmental temperatures. However, to our knowledge, there is little information from large-scale feeding operations and precision weather stations that establishes a link or lack thereof between weather patterns and cattle health. Additionally, we are unaware of any studies correlating other weather parameters animal health data. Therefore, the objective of this study is to determine if there is any association between daily weather patterns and animal morbidity/mortality in feedlots in the Texas Panhandle. Weather data collected from Texas Tech University Mesonet weather stations across the Texas Panhandle in close proximity to beef cattle feedlots was utilized in the current study. Additionally, near real-time morbidity and mortality data was collected from 35 feedlots near associated weather stations from 2014 - 2018. These data document a seasonal pattern relative to cattle morbidity and mortality with most health events occurring from November to January. This pattern is differentiated when comparing morbidity and mortality by listed causation (e.g., respiratory, digestive, other), and the majority of deaths over the entire time course were attributed to respiratory disease. This manuscript addresses how temperature, precipitation, and temperature-humidity indexes are correlated to feedlot cattle morbidity and mortality. Additionally, this manuscript provides an initial overview of these relationships that may warrant further stratification and exploration.