Liver abscesses and other production diseases have been shown to affect beef cattle performance, but their implications for animal well-being are not well understood, according to Colorado State University researchers.
F.S. Baier, T. Grandin, T.E. Engle, S.L. Archibeque, J.J. Wagner and L.N. Edwards-Callaway with the Colorado State University department of animal sciences conducted a study to investigate the effect of liver abscess presence on stress-related parameters in beef breed feedlot cattle.
Baier et al. assigned 363 Bos taurus crossbred beef feedlot steers with a bodyweight of about 675 kg to one of three groups in accordance to liver abscess score assigned after slaughter: no liver abscess presence (316 head), mild liver abscess presence (21 head) and severe liver abscess presence (24 head).
Hair cortisol concentrations were obtained from hair samples collected from each animal two days before slaughter, the researchers said, and maximum eye temperatures using infrared thermography and mobility scores were assigned to each animal. Serum cortisol concentrations were collected via exsanguination blood for 115 of the 363 animals.
According to Baier et al., all measured parameters — including infrared thermography (P = 0.55), hair cortisol (P = 0.96) and serum cortisol (P = 0.21) — showed no effect of liver abscess scores.
The researchers added that they did not perform a statistical analysis on the mobility data because only scores of normal locomotion were assigned.
Under the conditions of this experiment, liver abscesses did not affect measured stress-related outcomes, Baier et al. concluded, noting that additional research is warranted to improve the understanding of the relationship between liver abscess presence and other stress-related parameters associated with well-being in cattle.
The research was recently published in Applied Animal Science.