Behaviour 2019
Effects of prolonged water restriction on the behavior of feedlot steers
Kelsey Bruno1, Cashley Ahlberg-Smith2, Levi McPhillips3, Heather Meador1, Alex Taylor1, Michelle Calvo-Lorenzo4, Udaya Desilva1, Clint Krehbiel3, Raluca Mateescu5, Sara Place4, Megan Rolf2, Deb Vanoverbeke1, Blake Wilson1, Chris Richards1. 1Oklahoma State University, Stillwater, OK, United States; 2Kansas State University, Manhatten, KS, United States; 3University of Nebraska, Lincoln, NE, United States; 4Elanco Animal Health, Fayetteville, AR, United States; 5University of Florida, Gainesville, FL, United States

The objective of this study was to evaluate differences in behavior of feedlot steers due to water restriction. Four groups of steers (n = 469) from numerous sources were utilized. Individual feed and water intake (WI) were measured daily using an Insentec RIC system. Steers had ad libitum access to feed and water for 70 d (BAS). After a 28-d step-down period, steers were maintained at 50% of ad libitum water consumption for 42 d (RST). Feeding and drinking behavior were monitored using an Insentec feeding system. Agonistic behaviors were measured by one observer over 6 d (2 consecutive d during BAS, 2 consecutive d in early RST, and 2 consecutive d in late RST). Daily behavioral measures were recorded during 3 intervals: 0400-0959, 1000-1559, and 1600-2159 h. During RST, feeding, drinking, and repetitive behaviors were greatest during 0400 to 0959 and decreased throughout the day (≤ 0.001). Displacement behavior decreased during RST (≤ 0.001), with no change in other behaviors. Prolonged water restriction affected social and intake behaviors in feedlot cattle, indicating that animal caretakers must account for behavioral changes in times of limited water availability.