The objective of this study was to compare the effects of 24-h road transport or 24-h feed and water deprivation on acute-phase and performance responses of feeder cattle. Angus × Hereford steers (n = 30) and heifers (n = 15) were ranked by gender and BW (217 ± 3 kg initial BW; 185 ± 2 d initial age) and randomly assigned to 15 pens on d –12 of the experiment (3 animals/pen; 2 steers and 1 heifer). Cattle were fed alfalfa–grass hay ad libitum and 2.3 kg/animal daily (DM basis) of a corn-based concentrate throughout the experiment (d –12 to 28). On d 0, pens were randomly assigned to 1 of 3 treatments: 1) transport for 24 h in a livestock trailer for 1,200 km (TRANS), 2) no transport but feed and water deprivation for 24 h (REST), or 3) no transport and full access to feed and water (CON). Treatments were concurrently applied from d 0 to d 1. Total DMI was evaluated daily from d –12 to d 28. Full BW was recorded before treatment application (d –1 and 0) and at the end of experiment (d 28 and 29). Blood samples were collected on d 0, 1, 4, 7, 10, 14, 21, and 28. Mean ADG was greater (P < 0.01) in CON vs. TRANS and REST cattle but similar (P = 0.46) between TRANS and REST cattle (1.27, 0.91, and 0.97 kg/d, respectively; SEM = 0.05). No treatment effects were detected for DMI (P ≥ 0.25), but CON had greater G:F vs. TRANS (P < 0.01) and REST cattle (P = 0.08) whereas G:F was similar (P = 0.21) between TRANS and REST cattle. Plasma cortisol concentrations were greater (P ≤ 0.05) in REST vs. CON and TRANS cattle on d 1, 7, 14, and 28 and also greater (P = 0.02) in TRANS vs. CON cattle on d 1. Serum NEFA concentrations were greater (P < 0.01) in REST and TRANS vs. CON cattle on d 1 and greater (P < 0.01) in REST vs. TRANS cattle on d 1. Plasma ceruloplasmin concentrations were greater (P = 0.04) in TRANS vs. CON cattle on d 1, greater (P = 0.05) in REST vs. CON on d 4, and greater (P ≤ 0.05) in REST vs. TRANS and CON on d 14. Plasma haptoglobin concentrations were greater (P < 0.01) in TRANS vs. CON and REST cattle on d 1 and greater (P ≤ 0.05) for REST vs. TRANS and CON cattle on d 7. In conclusion, 24-h transport and 24-h nutrient deprivation elicited acute-phase protein reactions and similarly reduced feedlot receiving performance of feeder cattle. These results suggest that feed and water deprivation are major contributors to the acute-phase response and reduced feedlot receiving performance detected in feeder cattle transported for long distances.
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