A survey of gross pathologic conditions in cull cows at slaughter in the Great Lakes region of the United States

Author: D. J. RezacD. U. Thomson , M.G. Siemens, F.L. Prouty, C.D. Reinhardt, S. J. Bartle

Journal: J. Dairy Sci. 97 :4227–4235

Abstract: The prevalence and severity of multiple gross pathologic lesions and abnormalities in cull dairy and beef cows was evaluated at a commercial abattoir in the Great Lakes region of the United States; 1,461 cattle were examined at slaughter over the course of 3 production days and evaluated for the occurrence and severity of lung, liver, rumen, and carcass abnormalities and pathologies. Of the 1,461 cattle examined at slaughter, 87% were classified as Holstein cows and 13% were classified as other cows. Liver abscesses were observed in 32% of the population and over half were classified as severe (18.5% population prevalence). The frequency distribution of cattle observed with a liver abscess was not different among production days. Severe ruminal lesions and rumenitis scars were observed in 10.0% of the population, and 25.1% of cattle were observed to have short or denuded papillae. Severe bovine respiratory disease complex lesions were observed in 10.3% of cattle. The most common reason for USDA postmortem carcass condemnation was malignant lymphoma (9 of 41). Only 45.9% of carcasses were free from bruising. Results indicate that ruminal acidosis and bovine respiratory disease complex occur at a relatively high frequency in this population. Although cows are routinely culled for reproductive failure or low milk production, the underlying reason may be causally related to these relatively prevalent conditions. Further investigation is warranted to assess this relationship and to examine the use of specific health intervention strategies within this demographic of cattle.