Abstract #T67

# T67
Associations between animal performance measures and rumen pH of growing feedlot steers in drought simulated conditions.
Sara E. Place1, Michelle S. Calvo-Lorenzo1, Clint R. Krehbiel1, Christopher J. Richards1, Douglas L. Step2, Kristi Allwardt1, Catherine L. Haviland1, Emily A. Andreini1, Jacob Reed1, Andrew Grimes1, Ashley Broocks1, Justin L. Lyles1, Kyre E. Larrabee*1, Kimberly Branham1, Megan M. Rolf1, 1Department of Animal Science, Oklahoma State University, Stillwater, OK, 2Veterinary Clinical Sciences, Oklahoma State University, Stillwater, OK.

Located in the drought stricken Southern Great Plains, Oklahoma is an ideal site to investigate the associations between decreased water availability and cattle performance. The objectives of this research were to investigate the effects of restricted water intake (WI) on animal performance, and associations between animal performance and rumen pH. These data are part of a larger 5 yr project that will develop selection and management tools to adapt cattle to drought conditions. The data were collected from 117 cross-bred steers (Bos taurus) that were blocked by BW upon arrival to the Willard Sparks Beef Research Center at Oklahoma State University in Stillwater. Steers were housed in 4 identical pens each equipped with an Insentec feed and water intake system consisting of 6 feed bunks and 1 waterer per pen, which allowed for individual DMI and WI collection. Following a 21 d adaptation, a 70 d feed and WI collection trial was conducted to establish baseline WI for each individual steer. Following the 70 d trial, steers had their WI reduced 10% of baseline weekly for 4 wks to achieve a 50% of baseline WI restriction. After 1 wk of adaptation, cattle were maintained at 50% WI restriction for 35 d to simulate reductions of WI due to decreased water quality, quantity, and increased temperature that cattle would experience during drought events. Steers were weighed every 14 d. Prior to and after water restriction, rumen fluid was collected for each steer via rumenocentesis and the pH was immediately measured. Associations between DMI, WI, ADG, and rumen fluid pH before and after water restriction and the effects of water restriction on ADG were investigated using Proc Corr and Proc GLM procedures in SAS (SAS Institute, Cary, NC), respectively. Rumen fluid pH was not associated with any steer performance measures (P > 0.05). Water restriction significantly reduced steer ADG and DMI by 23% and 19% (P < 0.001), respectively, and rumen pH was increased during restriction (P = 0.0141). These data suggest drought conditions negatively affect steer performance, emphasizing the importance of selection and management tools to adapt beef cattle production to drought conditions.

Key Words: climate adaptation, drought, cattle