Hot-iron branding on the upper hind limb in beef feedlot calves is a usual part of the processing procedure at arrival in many feedlots in South Africa. However, cheek branding is becoming more popular in feedlots due to ease of restraint and better visibility of the brand mark. However, the welfare aspects of cheek branding compared to leg branding have not been investigated. By monitoring physiological and behavioural markers this study was conducted to determine potential stress-related differences between feedlot calves which are branded on the leg, those branded on the cheek and control (sham-branded) animals. Thirty weaned crossbred beef calves, recently arrived at a commercial feedlot, were habituated to handling in a crush for seven days and then randomly divided into three groups of ten. Group A was branded on the cheek, Group B on the hind leg and Group C was sham-branded with a room temperature iron. Group C was further divided into two groups (n = 5) that were either sham-branded on the cheek or on the leg. Blood was collected at 0, 30, 60, 90 and 120 minutes after branding for serum cortisol determination with a commercial radioimmunoassay kit. In addition, faeces were collected from all animals on the day after arrival, as well as at day seven, two and one prior to branding, on the day of branding and for seven consecutive days. Faecal glucocorticoid metabolite levels were determined using a group-specific enzyme immunoassay measuring 11, 17-dioxoandrostanes (11, 17-DOA). Other outcomes monitored included behavioural traits for seven days after branding, individual average daily weight gain (ADG), morbidity and mortality during the feedlot period and histopathological evaluation of the brand mark on the skin after slaughter. Faecal 11, 17-DOA concentrations were higher the day after transport than the day after branding (PHot-iron branding on the upper hind limb in beef feedlot calves is a usual part of the processing procedure at arrival in many feedlots in South Africa.
|Title||:||Effect of Hot-iron Branding on the Cheek Or Upper Hind Limb on Cortisol Levels, Behaviour and Production in Feedlot Calves|
|Author||:||Maria Jacoba Grobler|