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Effects of horns on cattle bruising

published: December 21st 2017
source: Texas A&M Beef Cattle Browsing Newsletter

A sample was evaluated of 4,287 finished cattle in 27 lots slaughtered at one facility. Of all cattle, 7.7% had horns. Across lots this ranged from 0 to 26.5%. If present, horns were measured for length of longest horn and for distance between horn tips.

Average horn length was 4.4 inches, ranging from 1.2 to 11; average distance was 15.6 inches, ranging from 5.5 to 25.6. Across lots, prevalence of bruising was 55%, ranging from 0 to 98%. Bruising occurred most frequently (61%) down the topline, with over half of that occurring over the loin and rib.  Severity of bruising was about evenly distributed between minor, moderate, or severe. Even though incidence of bruising was relatively low in the shoulder region, a higher percentage of bruises there were severe.

The authors reported “a poor relationship between prevalence of bruising and prevalence of horns within a lot” which is contrary to most published reports. However, “bruising prevalence and horn prevalence were significantly influenced by feedyard origin, suggesting that bruising could be occurring due to other factors such as facility design, cattle handling, and trailer type”. Since most bruising occurred down the topline, the authors noted this implied “other likely sources of bruising”.

(Kansas St. Univ. Cattlemen’s Day 2017, p. 45)

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