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Case Study: Effect of exercise programs during receiving in a commercial feedlot on behavior and productivity of Brahman crossbred calves: Results from a commercial environment and a comparison to the research environment
- Daigle, Courtney L., Mathias, Amanda J., Ridge, Emily E., Gill, Ron, Wickersham, Tryon A., Sawyer, Jason E.
- The Professional animal scientists 2018 v.34 no.6 pp. 653-663
- Brahman, animal health, autumn, calves, case studies, crossbreds, drinking, empirical research, exercise, feedlots, heifers, mortality, respiratory tract diseases, steers, walking, Texas
- Exercising receiving cattle is hypothesized to be a management strategy that could mitigate receiving stress in cattle. Little empirical research has been published on the quantifiable (productivity, health, behavior) effects of this strategy in a commercial feedyard setting. In a single Texas feedyard case study, high-risk Brahman-crossbred receiving calves (n = 688; 184 ± 5 kg) were exercised during the receiving period in the fall. Upon arrival, calves were sorted into single-sex pens (n = 6 pens: n = 3 pens heifers, n = 3 pens steers) and randomly assigned to 1 of 3 treatments within sex blocks: (1) programmatic exercise (PRO; cattle moved to drive alley and encouraged to maintain movement for 20 min), (2) free exercise (FRE; cattle moved to drive alley and allowed free movement without access to the pen for 60 min), or (3) no exercise (CON). Treatments were applied (n = 12 sessions; 3 sessions per week) across a 30-d period, between 0800 and 1000 h at least 1 h after feed delivery. Gain-to-feed ratio and mortality rate were similar among treatments. Cattle assigned to CON had greater ADG than did those assigned to FRE or PRO (1.52, 1.39, and 1.44 kg/d). Percentage of calves treated for respiratory disease was greater in FRE and PRO compared with CON. The proportion of the pen lying and resting simultaneously increased and the proportion of the pen feeding, drinking, ruminating, and walking decreased over time. Exercise treatments did not compromise gain efficiency or behavior; however, exercised cattle had smaller ADG. These results suggest that exercise reduces receiving-period gains without improving animal health or altering behaviors.