Abstract #T66

# T66
Effects of rubber covers for concrete slats on lameness in confined feedlots.
Bryant R. Chapman*1, Derrick S. Smith1, Colleen N. Curtiss1, Monica J. Atkin1, Steven R. Rust1, Daniel L. Grooms1, 1Michigan State University, East Lansing, MI.

The second most significant health issue for fed cattle in the US is lameness and is viewed as a major welfare issue in animal agriculture. Lameness tends to be more problematic for cattle housed in facilities with slatted floors. The objective of this study was to evaluate the effectiveness of rubber covered slatted floors for reduction of lameness, tail injury incidence, and improvement of overall performance. Angus-based steers (250 to 300 kg) were assigned randomly to pens with non-covered concrete slats (NC;n = 4) or concrete slats covered with rubber (RC;n = 4). Each pen contained 7 steers at a stocking density of 6.9 m2/steer. Cattle were on feed for 110 to 131 d. Locomotion scores, tail lesions, left carpal joint circumference, and hoof dimensions were recorded. Average daily gain, feed conversion efficiency, cleanliness, and carcass traits were collected and reported in a companion abstract. Hide cleanliness was graded on a scale of 0 to 9, with 0 being less than 5% soiled and 9 being completely soiled. Locomotion scores were recorded on a 0 to 3 scale, where 0 was a normal gait and 3 was severely lame. Tail tip injury was recorded on a scale of 0 to 3, where 0 had no visible lesions and 3 had open wounds. Locomotion scores, left carpal joint circumference, and tail lesions did not differ between treatments. The toe length of cattle housed on the RC was longer than NC (77.3 vs. 84.0; P< 0.01). A trend for sharper angle of the hoof was observed for cattle on NC compared with RC (55.5 vs. 52.5; P<0.16). A positive correlation was detected between the angle of the front hoof and the carpal joint circumference (r = 0.77; P <0.03). Positive correlations were detected between hide soiling vs. the front toe length (r = 0.71; P<0.05) and angles between the front and rear hooves (r = 0.62; P<0.10). In summary, provision of rubber covers for concrete slats had minor effects on overall cattle lameness.

Key Words: lameness, welfare, tail lesion