Finishing Steers in a Deep-bedded Hoop Barn and a
Conventional Feedlot: Effects on Behavior and Temperament
during Winter in Iowa
Is Version Of
As the Iowa beef industry invests in environmental management, there has been increasing interest in systems that minimize runoff. A possible housing option used previously for pigs and sheep to help mitigate some of these environmental concerns are hoops. The objective of this study was to compare steer behavior and temperament between two housing treatments; hoop building (HP n=3; 4.65m 2 /steer) vs. conventional feedlot (FD n=3; 14.7m 2 /steer) during winter months. A total of 240 crossbred Bos taurus steers were used. Steers were ear tagged, implanted, and weighed (400 ± 23.38 kg) on arrival and allotted to balance weight and breed. Behavioral data were collected using a 10 min scan sampling technique using live observation by two experienced observers from 0800 h to 1600 h on days 39, 75 and 118 of the trial. Two behaviors (head in bunk and head in waterer) and three postures (lying, walking and standing) were recorded. The day post-behavior collection, steers were moved through a squeeze chute for subjective temperament scoring. Scores ranged from 1 (exits chute calmly) to 6 (very aggressive, charges handlers). HP steers spent more time at the feedbunk (P = 0.04) than FD steers between treatments, however there was no difference (P = 0.66) for time spent at the waterer. Lying was higher (P = 0.008) for HP steers compared to their FD counterparts. HP steers exhibited a lower (P = 0.003) incidence of walking and standing (P = 0.008) compared to their FD counterparts. Temperament scores were lower P = 0.03) for HP steers compared to FD steers and day (P < 0.001) was a source of variation. Day by treatment interactions were not different (P = 0.47). In conclusion, overall time budget differences were observed with HP steers being less active than FD steers overall, but spending more at the feed bunk. Temperament scores increased over the first two observation days of the trial, and declined on the third observational day. Therefore, housing steers in a hoop does not result in detrimental alterations in either behavior or temperament when compared to steers in a conventional feedlot.