Feedlot rumen development from new calf to finish ration and working to avoid digestive disease as a veterinarian


  • Blaine Johnson Kansas State University College of Veterinary Medicine – Beef Cattle Institute Manhattan, KS 66506




feedlot, health, nutrition


Mitigating digestive mortalities begins when new cattle arrive. The proportion of U.S. feedlot mortalities attributable to di­gestive diseases accounts for 19.5% to 28.4% of all mortalities. Veterinarians provide a key role in the health and husbandry of cattle feeding operations. It is important to not overlook cer­tain aspects of cattle feeding such as water, rest and food for newly received cattle. Water plays a crucial role in an animal’s physiology/homeostasis. Rest from a stressful event, such as transportation, should be addressed prior to processing. A gen­eral industry recommendation for rest after transportation is one hour of rest for every hour of transportation. Food in the form of good-quality long-stem hay must be provided at arrival along with fresh water. The next phase is transitioning cattle to a high-grain diet. The transition period typically lasts around 28-45 days, which coincides with the highest risk period for bovine respiratory disease (BRD). Proper management during the transition phase relies on bunk management, reading the cattle, monitoring the weather and proper communication be­tween personnel working with and/or feeding the cattle. Fail­ure in one or more of these areas will likely result in undesir­able returns.