Recap - Kunkle Symposium
By: Dr. Emily Taylor
At this years 2019 Southern Section Kunkle Symposium, researchers came together to discuss the movement of stocker cattle from the Southeast to the Southern Great Plains. Specifically, health and management implications were the topics. To begin the day, Dr. Glenn Duff presented a historical view of the health and performance of southeast origin stocker cattle. His presentation paired nicely with the ARPAS Symposium, where the cause of pre-weaning morbidity and mortality was discussed. As an addition, Dr. Duff reviewed the past 30 years of increased weaning/stocker weights, ADG and carcass weights. He also explained that while we have seen these performance increases, morbidity and mortality rates have not improved, and may have even increased. It is possible that in this instance, genetic selection for increased pre-weaning performance may have inadvertently resulted in calves that are less resistant to the stresses and strains associated with post-weaning production systems.
Dr. Dee Griffin continued the conversation of transportation based stressors of stocker and feeder cattle in the United States. Transportation stress has continued to be accepted as a contributing factor to the morbidity and mortality of cattle being shipped to the Southern Great Plains feedyards. A multitude of research is still needed to paint a clear picture of the exact role transportation plays. Many efforts have been placed on trying to educate those who are transporting cattle, however, none are mandatory across all drivers. Dr. Griffin spent his time reviewing useful data which included how cattle can take thousands of steps while on the semi-trailer, as well as, the different steps and G-Forces taken by cattle on the top deck compared to cattle on the lower deck.
Dr. John Richeson reviewed the importance of managing health during the receiving period. Because cattle that are received in stocker and feedlot facilities are at an increased risk for multiple health disorders, preconditioning practices at the ranch origin is paramount to the animal's success. These practices are, however, underutilized and result in high-risk for disease among calves commingled and entering the subsequent production system. Dr. Richeson presented a multitude of factors that should be considered when managing the animal's health during the receiving period.
As a continuation of Dr. Richeson's presentation, Dr. Paul Beck discussed the subsequent health and performance of feedlot cattle following differing management practices during the stocker phase. The stocker phase absorbs the bulk of cattle not ready for finishing, resulting in an array of cattle sizes and diseases. How these cattle are managed during the stocker phase will ultimately define their productivity during the finishing phase. Dr. Beck explained that more research is needed to ascertain what determines the quality of the health intervention outcomes for individual animals and the subsequent implications of health in the stocker phase.