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Antemortem blood parameters may indicate incidence of liver abscesses

Cattle with major liver abscesses undergo physiologic differentiation, which can be detected in whole blood and serum.

Liver abscesses in feedlot cattle, particularly in Holstein steers, is a major cause of carcass condemnations, so managing cattle to reduce the incidence of liver abscesses is key.

West Texas A&M University researchers recently published a study that sought to identifying blood parameter outcomes associated with liver abscesses antemortem that would allow feedlot managers to implement cattle management strategies.

R.T. Herrick, T.P. Jones, J.L. Sperber, J.T. Richeson and T.E. Lawrence with West Texas A&M University and T.R. Brown with Cargill Meat Solutions compared whole blood and serum analyses from cattle with and without liver abscesses to quantify differences associated with the presence and severity of liver abscesses in fed beef steers.

Herrick et al. collected blood samples from 153 fed Holsteins — 51 samples from cattle with no, minor and major abscesses — approximately 30 seconds after exsanguination; liver abscesses were visually assessed after evisceration.

According to the researchers, of the complete-blood-count variables analyzed, platelet counts were increased (P = 0.02) and hemoglobin and hematocrit values (P < 0.01) were decreased in carcasses with major abscesses (214 x 103/μL, 12.9 g/dL, 41.0%, respectively) compared with carcasses without abscesses (137 x 103/μL, 13.8 g/dL, 43.4%, respectively).

Serum analysis indicated that carcasses with major abscesses had increased (P < 0.01) globulin — 5.8 versus 5.2 g/dL — along with decreased (P ≤ 0.03) sodium (141 versus 142 mmol/L), albumin (2.8 versus 3.0 g/dL), alanine aminotransferase (19 versus 21 U/L) and aspartate aminotransferase (89 versus 97 U/L) compared to carcasses with no liver abscess, Herrick et al. reported.

They concluded that cattle with major liver abscesses undergo physiologic differentiation, which can be detected in whole blood and serum.

Herrick et al. said their baseline research improves the understanding of the systemic influences of liver abscesses, which could help identify antemortem blood parameters associated with major liver abscesses. By identifying abscesses early would allow for management interventions that would have useful implications for cattle welfare and feedlot management.

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