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

By: Katie J. Heiderscheit, Alyssa D. Freestone, Aubree M. Beenken, Erin L. Deters, Joshua M. Peschel, and Stephanie L. Hansen

Because of the segmentation of the cattle industry, cattle are transported at least once during their lives. The objective of these two studies was to determine if transportation, feed and water deprivation, and/or transit duration changed the behavior of feedlot steers. The first study found steers transported for 18 h preferred to lay down instead of competing for food, unlike steers that were deprived of food and water for 18 h. Bunk displacements were also increased in steers deprived of food and water, indicating increased aggression. In the second study examining effects of transit duration (8 vs. 18 h), steers from both treatments laid down within 25 min of arrival back to the home pens. There were no differences in the frequency of bunk displacements between treatments. Producers should consider the increased motivation for cattle to lay down after transportation and the increased aggression at the feed bunk in food-deprived cattle when developing post-arrival management strategies.

Read the full article on the Journal of Animal Science.