Morbidity effects on productivity and profitability of stocker cattle grazing in the Southern Plains

W. E. Pinchak, D. R. Tolleson, M. McCloy, L. J. Hunt, R. J. Gill, R. J. Ansley, S. J. Bevers

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

28 Scopus citations


Effects of bovine respiratory disease (BRD) on stocker cattle systems are unknown under extensive rangeland environments. Three experiments were conducted to test the hypothesis that BRD-based morbidity is a major factor affecting the productivity and profitability of stocker cattle grazing Southern Plains rangelands. In Exp. 1 (658 male calves; average BW = 231 kg), 17% of the cattle were treated for BRD <8 d, 6% for 8 to 14 d, and 8% for >14 d. Morbid cattle had lower ADG than did healthy cattle (P < 0.10). Cattle requiring 14 d of pharmaceutical therapy gained less than cattle having <14 d therapy (P < 0.01). In Exp. 2, (279 steers and bulls; average BW = 216 kg), the ADG by steers (0.74 kg·animal-1·d-1) was greater (P < 0.05) than by bulls castrated after arrival (0.64 kg· animal -1·d-1). Castration after arrival led to a 13.5% loss in daily gain and a 10.3% loss in season-long gain. More (P < 0.05) bulls castrated after arrival (60%) were morbid compared with steers (28%). In Exp. 3, 633 heifers (average BW = 251 kg) were used to test the effects of morbidity on weight gain and reproduction. Heifers with lower initial weights exhibited increased (P < 0.05) morbidity. Heifers requiring two or more antibiotic treatments gained 0.03 kg/d less (P < 0.10) than did healthy heifers and had lower (P < 0.05) conception rates (66 vs. 81%). Conception rate in twice-treated heifers was 19% less than healthy heifers. Morbid heifers conceived 0.6 mo later (P < 0.05) than healthy heifers. Under the conditions of Exp. 1 and Exp. 2, morbidity decreased net returns 9.7 to 21.3% per animal. Adjusted gross returns per animal in Exp. 3 for replacement heifers were 3 to 7.8% less for morbid heifers.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2773-2779
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of animal science
Issue number9
StatePublished - Sep 2004
Externally publishedYes


  • Morbidity
  • Production
  • Profitability
  • Shipping Stress

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Food Science
  • Animal Science and Zoology
  • Genetics


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