U.S. flag

An official website of the United States government

Dot gov

Official websites use .gov
A .gov website belongs to an official government organization in the United States.


Secure .gov websites use HTTPS
A lock ( ) or https:// means you’ve safely connected to the .gov website. Share sensitive information only on official, secure websites.


Main content area

Endocannabinoid concentrations in plasma during the finishing period are associated with feed efficiency and carcass composition of beef cattle

V. M. Artegoitia, A. P. Foote, L. A. Kuehn, R. M. Lewis, T. L. Wheeler, H. C. Freetly, R. G. Jr. Tait
Journal of animal science 2017 v.95 no.10 pp. 4568-4574
animal growth, beef cattle, blood plasma, blood sampling, calves, cannabinoids, carcass characteristics, carcass composition, chemical concentration, correlation, fat thickness, feed conversion, feed intake, finishing, glycerol, heifers, prediction, steers
We previously have shown that plasma concentrations of endocannabinoids (EC) are positively correlated with feed efficiency and leaner carcasses in finishing steers. However, whether the animal growth during the finishing period affects the concentration of EC is unknown. The objective of this study was to quantify anandamide (AEA) and 2-arachidonyl glycerol (2-AG) in plasma during different stages of the finishing period and identify possible associations with production traits and carcass composition in beef calves. Individual DMI and BW gain were measured on 236 calves (n = 127 steers and n = 109 heifers) for 84 d on a finishing ration. Blood samples were collected on d 0 (early), 42 (mid), and 83 (late) of days on study (DOS). Cattle were slaughtered 44 d after the feeding study. Plasma concentration of AEA at 0 DOS was indirectly associated with the G:F (P < 0.01) and directly associated with residual feed intake (RFI; P < 0.05) in steers. In contrast, plasma concentration of AEA at 83 DOS was directly associated with the G:F and indirectly associated RFI in heifers and steers (P < 0.01). In addition, AEA concentration at 42 and 83 DOS was positively associated with ADG and DMI (P < 0.01) in heifers and steers. Furthermore, 2-AG concentration at 42 DOS was positively associated with ADG in steers (P < 0.01) and heifers (P < 0.10). Plasma concentration of AEA was positively associated (P < 0.05) with HCW, USDA-calculated yield grade, and 12th-rib fat thickness in heifers, whereas no associations were found in steers. In contrast, 2-AG concentration was not associated with any carcass traits. These results provide evidence that circulating EC change during animal growth and that AEA concentration may be a useful predictor of growth and feed efficiency and, in females, of carcass attributes.