The effect of body weight on some welfare indicators in feedlot cattle in a hot environment

Heat stress has important effects on the welfare of livestock. The effects of heat stress in cattle include changes in biological functions and behaviors. The aim of this study from the Department of Animal Science, Uludag University, Bursa, Turkey, was to investigate the behavioral differences between light and heavy feedlot cattle reared in a hot environment. Sixteen male Holstein feedlot cattle were allocated to light (353.8±15.5 kg, n=8) and heavy (737.1±15.8 kg, n=8) groups according to their live weight and were kept in a semi-open feedlot barn. The individual behavioral response variables measured were standing, lying, feeding, drinking, ruminating, locomotor activity and elimination (urinating and defecating). The effects of group, day, observation time, replicate and all interactions were included in an explanatory statistical (GLM) model. The data were analyzed using the PROC GLM procedure of SAS. Overall, the heavy cattle spent more time standing (P<0.001), lying (P<0.001), and eliminating (P<0.05) compared to the light group. In contrast, the light group spent more time eating, drinking and ruminating (P<0.001). Locomotor activity did not differ significantly between groups (P>0.05). During the day, heavy cattle spent more time standing (at 1600 hours) and less time eating in comparison with the light cattle (P<0.001) (at 1300 and 1600 hours). Light and heavy feedlot cattle behaved differently in a hot environment. The findings of the study indicate that the welfare of the heavy Holstein feedlot cattle was impacted negatively when the ambient temperature was high (at 1300 hours).
Dikmen S, Ustuner H, Orman A. Int J Biometeorol 2011 May 1 [Epub ahead of print].

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