For the next year, Merck Animal Health is sponsoring a free webinar, “Fatigued Cattle Syndrome: What You Need to Know.” It can be viewed at any time.

The material is presented by Kansas State University Veterinarian Dan Thomson, the Jones Professor of Production Medicine and Epidemiology at K-State.

Thompson and colleagues recently published “Description of a Novel Fatigue Syndrome of Finished Feedlot Cattle Following Transportation,” in the Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association.

Thomson said their independent research concluded cattle that are stressed during the end of the feeding period can experience FCS, which can result in strained breathing, slow or lethargic movement, or non-ambulatory cattle.

He said the study determined factors such as heat load, animal size, cattle handling, time of day at shipping and animal transportation caused stress during the summer, leading to cattle that were fatigued.

In addition, he said factors once cattle reach the packing plant can contribute to cattle being fatigued, including time spent standing, available shade, water cooling, pen surface, cattle handling and density of cattle in pens.

Thompson also said, “Cattle that are fed beta agonists are no more likely to develop FCS than other cattle, and there are no differences in this regard whether the cattle are fed zilpaterol, ractopamine or are not fed a beta agonist at all. In reality, the factors that contribute most significantly to FCS are the finished weight of cattle, heat stress and animal handling practices.”

Based on this and other research, Merck plans to support an FCS Stewardship Program. The company also says it will again offer Zilmax to customers who complete a Zilmax Certification Program, are willing and able to participate in the Fatigued Cattle Syndrome Stewardship Program, and have secured an outlet for their cattle.

Merck says, "The identification of FCS is significant for producers, nutritionists, veterinarians and packing-plant personnel because it brings to light multiple factors that can impact cattle movement. It also offers a chance for the industry to work together to create solutions for continuous improvement in the area of cattle well-being now and in the future.

"We believe it’s important to support the FCS Stewardship Program and have agreed to fund it because it is something that will benefit the entire industry," Merck says. "We want to make good practices better, provide information and training, support the needs of producers and contribute to the industry’s continuous improvement efforts."

Merck also says this about the new program: "We hope you will join with us in supporting and engaging in the Stewardship Program. The program will be conducted in-field and will periodically collect and monitor real-world data and is focused on minimizing/eliminating fatigued cattle syndrome in the industry by mitigating risk factors – in the feedyard, during transport and at the packing-plant facilities. Bottom line, this program will create positive change within the industry and will support continuous improvement of animal well-being practices."

A recent letter from Merck outlining research on FCS is available: “Independent Research Results Establish the Multifactorial Nature of Fatigued Cattle Syndrome: Education and Preventive Measures Key to Successful Management of Condition.”