Nutritionally related disorders affecting feedlot cattle

M. L. Galyean, J. D. Rivera

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

49 Scopus citations


Digestive disorders account for approximately 25 to 33% of deaths in feedlot cattle and likely contribute to decreased performance and efficiency of production. A variety of nutritional, management, genetic, behavioural, and environmental factors seem to be involved in the development of metabolic disorders in feedlot cattle. Excessive production of acid in the rumen is often either the cause of or a significant contributing factor to metabolic and nutritional disorders, including acute or sub-acute (chronic) acidosis, liver abscesses, and feedlot bloat. Decreasing the percentage of highly fermentable concentrates in feedlot diets by increasing roughage level or limiting feed intake should decrease the incidence of these disorders, but this approach is usually not economically feasible. Careful feed bunk management is often thought to be important for decreasing the incidence of nutritionally related disorders, but research to support its importance is limited and conflicting. Certain feed additives like ionophores seem to be effective for decreasing the incidence of acidosis and feedlot bloat, presumably through decreased total feed intake, smaller and more frequent meals, and direct effects on the ruminal microbial population. The incidence of liver abscesses can be decreased by the feeding of various antibiotics. Polioencephalomalacia (PEM) can result from several causes, including thiamine deficiency; however, recent data suggests that overproduction of H2S in the rumen is an important cause of PEM when intakes (feed and water) of sulfur are high in feedlot cattle.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)13-20
Number of pages8
JournalCanadian Journal of Animal Science
Issue number1
StatePublished - Mar 2003


  • Acidosis
  • Beef cattle
  • Bloat
  • Liver abscesses
  • Polioencephalomalacia


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