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Animals (Basel). 2017 Mar 1;7(3). pii: E14. doi: 10.3390/ani7030014.

Impact of Feed Delivery Pattern on Aerial Particulate Matter and Behavior of Feedlot Cattle.

Author information

1
Department of Animal and Food Sciences, Texas Tech University, Lubbock, TX 79409, USA. fmmitloehner@ucdavis.edu.
2
Livestock Issues Research Unit, USDA-ARS, Lubbock, TX 79409, USA. jefftadailey@gmail.com.
3
Livestock Issues Research Unit, USDA-ARS, Lubbock, TX 79409, USA. fmmitloehner@ucdavis.edu.
4
Julie Morrow passed away; however, she has played a critical role in the completion of this work.. fmmitloehner@ucdavis.edu.
5
Department of Animal and Food Sciences, Texas Tech University, Lubbock, TX 79409, USA. john.mcglone@ttu.edu.

Abstract

Fine particulate matter with less than 2.5 microns diameter (PM2.5) generated by cattle in feedlots is an environmental pollutant and a potential human and animal health issue. The objective of this study was to determine if a feeding schedule affects cattle behaviors that promote PM2.5 in a commercial feedlot. The study used 2813 crossbred steers housed in 14 adjacent pens at a large-scale commercial West Texas feedlot. Treatments were conventional feeding at 0700, 1000, and 1200 (CON) or feeding at 0700, 1000, and 1830 (ALT), the latter feeding time coincided with dusk. A mobile behavior lab was used to quantify behaviors of steers that were associated with generation of PM2.5 (e.g., fighting, mounting of peers, and increased locomotion). PM2.5 samplers measured respirable particles with a mass median diameter ≤2.5 μm (PM2.5) every 15 min over a period of 7 d in April and May. Simultaneously, the ambient temperature, humidity, wind speed and direction, precipitation, air pressure, and solar radiation were measured with a weather station. Elevated downwind PM2.5 concentrations were measured at dusk, when cattle that were fed according to the ALT vs. the CON feeding schedule, demonstrated less PM2.5-generating behaviors (p < 0.05). At dusk, steers on ALT vs. CON feeding schedules ate or were waiting to eat (standing in second row behind feeding cattle) at much greater rates (p < 0.05). Upwind PM2.5 concentrations were similar between the treatments. Downwind PM2.5 concentrations averaged over 24 h were lower from ALT compared with CON pens (0.072 vs. 0.115 mg/m³, p < 0.01). However, dry matter intake (DMI) was less (p < 0.05), and average daily gain (ADG) tended to be less (p < 0.1) in cattle that were fed according to the ALT vs. the CON feeding schedules, whereas feed efficiency (aka gain to feed, G:F) was not affected. Although ALT feeding may pose a challenge in feed delivery and labor scheduling, cattle exhibited fewer PM2.5-generating behaviors and reduced generation of PM2.5 when feed delivery times matched the natural desires of cattle to eat in a crepuscular pattern.

KEYWORDS:

behavior; feeding management; feedlot cattle; particulate matter

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