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CULL FOR TRAITS THAT ADVERSELY AFFECT PROFITS

by: Glenn Selk
OSU Animal Science Dept.

Culling wild cattle has always made good sense. Wild cattle are hard on equipment, people, other cattle, and now we know that they are hard on the bottom line.

Mississippi State University researchers used a total of 210 feeder cattle consigned by 19 producers in a "Farm to Feedlot" program to evaluate the effect of temperament on performance, carcass characteristics, and net profit. Temperament was scored on a 1 to 5 scale (1 = nonaggressive, docile; 5 = very aggressive, excitable). Three measurements were used: pen score, chute score, and exit velocity. Measurements were taken on the day of shipment to the feedlot. Exit velocity is an evaluation of temperament that is made electronically by measuring the speed at which the animal leaves the confinement of the chute. Exit velocity and pen scores were highly correlated.

As pen scores increased, so did exit velocity. Breed of sire had a significant effect on all three temperament measurements and on feedlot performance and carcass traits. As pen score and exit velocity increased, health treatments costs and number of days treated increased, while average daily gain and final body weight decreased. As pen score increased, net profit per head tended to decline. Pen temperament scores and net profits per head were as follows: 1 = $121.89; 2 = $100.98; 3 = $107.18; 4 = $83.75; 5 = $80.81. These results are in agreement with similar research conducted at Iowa State, Texas A & M, and elsewhere. Source: Vann and co workers. 2006. American Society of Animal Science: Southern Section Meeting, Orlando, FL.

Impact of Feedlot Sickness on Profitability of Steers

New Mexico State University and Texas A&M animal scientists studied the records of over 800 steers from the New Mexico Ranch to Rail program from 2001 to 2004. Steers were classified based on number of medical treatments during the finishing period. Classifications were: zero medical treatments, one medical treatment, and two or more medical treatments (2+). Twenty two percent of the cattle received medical treatment of some kind. Steers receiving one or more medical treatment had over average daily gain, lower carcass value, and spent more days on feed than steers requiring no medical treatments. The profitability per head was greatly affected by sickness. Steers that had been treated twice or more (2+) lost $253.70 per head. Steers treated once lost $69.63 per head. Healthy cattle that were never treated made $14.07 per head profit. Analysis of these records from steers in the New Mexico Ranch to Rail program reaffirms and quantifies the effects of sickness on feedlot performance, carcass value and profitability. These results provide similar findings to those produced at OSU in the 1990's. Source: Waggoner and coworkers. 2006 Cattle Growers' Short Course Proceedings and Livestock Research Briefs, New Mexico State University.

Immune and Genetic Factors Influencing Pinkeye Incidence

Iowa State University animal scientists analyzed field data from ISU herds and cooperator herds in 2003 and 2004. They sought to estimate the genetic measurements that could aid in the selection of cattle resistant to Infectious Bovine Keratoconjunctivitis (IBK), commonly known as pinkeye. Also they studied the immune components involved in eye disease defense mechanisms. They found a decrease in weaning weight of 20.9 pounds per calf infected with pinkeye. The analysis of the field data revealed an estimate of 0.18 for heritability of resistance to Pinkeye. This estimate is considered to be of low to moderate heritability, which indicates that slow to moderate progress can be made based on selection for IBK resistance. Tear samples were collected from the eyes of 90 calves in 2004 in order to quantify immunoglobulins (commonly called antibodies). The result of this analysis indicated that as the amount of Immunglobulin A in the tears increases, the likelihood of infection and/or the severity of infection decreased. This information would suggest that properly fed cattle, with a strong immune system will be more resistant to pinkeye. Source: Rodriguez and co workers. Iowa State University Animal Industry Report 2006.

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