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Managing Stress in Cattle during Relocation for Maximum Weight Retention
Kansas Ag Connection - 05/26/2023

According to the experts at Kansas State University's Beef Cattle Institute, just like humans, beef cattle experience stress when their environment changes, leading to immediate weight loss.

Dr. Brad White, a veterinarian at Kansas State University, explains that when cattle are stressed, their initial response is to urinate and defecate, resulting in weight loss. This weight loss directly impacts producers' income, as nutritionist Phillip Lancaster points out.

Lancaster highlights the significance of reducing shrinkage, which refers to the weight lost before cattle are sold. Since producers are paid based on the weight of the cattle at the sale barn, minimizing shrinkage becomes crucial.

Referring to a study conducted at Kansas State University, Dr. White reveals that 700-pound calves typically experience a 5% to 6% weight loss when transported on a trailer for a two-hour journey and then returned to their original facility. The majority of this weight loss occurs immediately during the loading process.

The experts at Kansas State University unanimously stress the importance of moving cattle in a manner that minimizes stress levels.

Larson emphasizes the need for well-designed facilities that enable cattle to move easily and avoid injuries. Additionally, it is crucial to prevent cattle from standing in holding pens for prolonged periods. This principle applies to the time spent standing at the sale facility as well, according to Larson.

To minimize weight loss due to stress, Larson advises moving cattle calmly, ensuring smooth loading procedures, and delivering them to the auction facility close to the sale time.

By implementing these strategies to reduce stress and shrinkage, producers can maximize weight retention in their cattle, thereby optimizing their income.

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