Long-duration transit and food and water deprivation alter behavioral activities and aggressive interactions at the feed bunk in beef feedlot steers

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Beenken, Aubree M.
Deters, Erin L.
Peschel, Joshua M.
Hansen, Stephanie L.
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Oxford University Press
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Animal ScienceAgricultural and Biosystems EngineeringCivil, Construction and Environmental EngineeringElectrical and Computer Engineering
The objective of these experiments was to assess the effects of food and water deprivation and transit duration on the behavior of beef feedlot steers. In Experiment 1, 36 Angus-cross steers (353 ± 10 kg) were stratified to six pens and assigned one of three treatments (n = 12 steers/treatment): control (CON; stayed in home pens with ad libitum access to feed and water), deprived (DEPR; stayed in home pens but deprived of feed and water for 18 h), or transported (TRANS; subjected to 18-h transit event and returned to home pens). In Experiment 2, 60 Angus-cross steers (398 ± 5 kg; 6 steers/pen) were transported either 8 (8H) or 18 (18H) h. Four 8H pens (n = 24 steers) and six 18H pens (n = 36 steers) were used for behavioral analysis. In both experiments, the time to eat, drink, and lay down was recorded for each steer upon return to home pens. Total pen displacements from the feed bunk were also assessed for the two hours following feed access in both experiments. Data were analyzed using Proc Mixed of SAS 9.4, with treatment as a fixed effect. Steer was the experimental unit for behavioral activities, while pen was the experimental unit for bunk displacements. Displacements were analyzed as repeated measures with the repeated variable of time. In Experiment 1, time to eat and drink was similar across treatments (P ≥ 0.17). However, TRANS laid down in 16.5 min while DEPR did not lay down until 70.5 min post-arrival to pen (P < 0.01). Deprived steers had greater bunk displacements in the first 70 min post-feed access than CON or TRANS, though displacements among treatments from 100 to 120 min post-feed access were similar (Treatment × Time: P = 0.02). In Experiment 2, both 8H and 18H steers laid down approximately 25 min post-home pen arrival (P = 0.14). There was no effect of transit duration or duration by time on bunk displacements (P ≥ 0.20), though displacements were greater from 0 to 20 min than from 20 to 30 min post-feed access (Time: P = 0.04). Steers that were deprived of feed and water were highly motivated to access those resources, while transported steers prioritized laying down. Producers should consider these priorities when preparing to receive cattle from a long transit event.
This is a pre-copyedited, author-produced version of an article accepted for publication in Journal of Animal Science following peer review. The version of record: Heiderscheit, Katie J., Alyssa D. Freestone, Aubree M. Beenken, Erin L. Deters, Joshua M. Peschel, and Stephanie L. Hansen. "Long-duration transit and food and water deprivation alter behavioral activities and aggressive interactions at the feed bunk in beef feedlot steers." Journal of Animal Science (2022). is available online at DOI: 10.1093/jas/skac060. Copyright 2022. The Author(s). Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International (CC BY-NC 4.0). Posted with permission.