Effect of water and feed withdrawal and health status on blood and serum components, body weight loss, and meat and carcass characteristics of Holstein slaughter cows

Vogel, K.D., Claus, J.R., Grandin, T., Oetzel, G.R., Schaefer, D.M.
Department of Animal Science, Colorado State University, Fort Collins, CO 80523, USA

Journal of Animal Science. 2011. Feb 89(2): 538-48. Epub 2010 Oct 8.


During marketing, cattle may be exposed to periods of water deprivation. The impact of water and feed access and health status on the physiological well—being and carcass characteristics of Holstein slaughter cows during preslaughter marketing was studied through analysis of serum components, BW loss percentage, and fresh meat composition. Ninety-one multiparous Holstein cows (609 /- 89 kg mean BW, 2.9 /- 0.5 mean BCS, varying stage of lactation) were purchased over 3 wk in 3 groups (n = 31, 29, and 31) at a terminal market in central Wisconsin. Each cow was screened to determine health status (sick or not sick) and randomly assigned to 1 of 3 water and feed withdrawal treatment pens (AL, ad libitum access to water for 36 h; 18H, 18 h of ad libitum access to water followed by 18 h of water withdrawal; 36H, 36 h of water withdrawal; all 3 treatments included 36 h of feed withdrawal) in a randomized complete block arrangement with repeated measures for serum components, Blood samples were collected by tail venipuncture at 0, 9, 18, 27, and 36 h of each treatment. Ambient temperatures were 1.9 /- 6.2°C during the trial period, which occurred over a 3 week period in March and April 2007 near Arlington, WI. No difference (P > 0.05) was observed in mean serum cortisol in AL (18.41 /- 2.17 ng/mL) or 36H (22.98 1 2,17 ng/mL). Mean serum glucose was greater (P < 0.05) in 36H pens (78.15 /- 0.77 mg/dL) than AL (75.91 /- 0.77 mg/dL). Mean serum creatinine was greater (P < 0.05) in 36H pens (0.71 /- 0.03 mg/dL) than AL (0.60 /- 0.03 mg/dL). The 36H pens also displayed increased (P < 0.05) serum albumin, anion gap, Ca, CI, Na, cholesterol, and aspartate aminotransferase over AL. Greater (P < 0,05) mean percentage BW loss was observed in 36H pens (5.2 /- 0.6%) than AL (3.1 /- 0.6%). Mean muscle protein (%) was greater (P < 0.05) in 36H (22.2 /- 0.4%) than 18H (21.3 /- 0.4%). Mean muscle moisture (%) was greater (P < 0.05) in AL and 18H (75.3 /- 0.4% and 75.2 /- 0.4%) than 36H. Mean 24-h pH values were 5.92 (AL), 5,92 (18H), and 5.81 (36H; SE = 0,04) and were not different (P < 0.05). Observed pH and color values indicated a borderline dark-cutter state across all cattle in the study, regardless of water and feed access treatment. Based on these results, water and feed withdrawal in lairage should not exceed 18 h during the marketing of Holstein slaughter cows acclimated to springtime conditions to maintain BW, serum component concentrations, and fresh meat composition,

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