Meneses, X. C. A., Park, R. M., Ridge, E. E. et al. 2021. Hourly activity patterns and behaviour-based management of feedlot steers with and without a cattle brush. Applied Animal Behaviour Science 236, 105241.
Environmental enrichment (EE) can increase the environmental complexity of feedlots by providing mental and physical stimulation. The objectives of the study were to 1) identify hourly patterns of feedlot steer behaviour and 2) evaluate the impact of EE on these behavioural patterns. Predominantly British and British continental crossbred steers (n = 54) were shipped to Texas A&M AgriLife Feedlot in Bushland, Texas, blocked by weight, and assigned to pens. Pens were randomly assigned to one of two treatments 1) No enrichment (CON; n = 3 pens at 9 steers/pen) and 2) BRUSH (Cattle brush; n = 3 pens at 9 steers/pen). Video recordings were decoded using continuous observation to determine the hourly frequency of headbutting, mounting, bar licking, tongue rolling, allogrooming and brush usage from 08:00 h to 17:30 h on d -2, -1, 0, 1, 2, 4, 8, 16, 32 and 64 relative to brush implementation. All ten research days were combined for analysis. The impact of time (hour), treatment, and their interaction on cattle behaviour were evaluated using a General Linear Mixed Model (PROC MIXED) in SAS. All behaviours were affected by time of day (P < 0.05). A treatment effect was observed for allogrooming (P = 0.0448), headbutting (P = 0.0038), and bar licking (P = 0.0002). No treatment by time of day interactions were detected (P> 0.05). Knowledge of behavioural patterns is critical to advancing feedlot cattle welfare research and provides information to husbandry technicians regarding cattle behavioural expectations. Training stockpeople to incorporate behavioural observations into daily health checks can improve feedlot cattle wellbeing by facilitating the prompt detection and treatment of sick or injured cattle.