Efficacy of statistical process control procedures to identify deviations in continuously measured physiologic and behavioral variables in beef steers experimentally challenged with Mannheimia haemolytica.
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The objective of this experiment was to determine if statistical process control (SPC) procedures coupled with the remote continuous collection of feeding behavior patterns, accelerometer-based behaviors, and rumen temperature can accurately differentiate between animals experimentally inoculated with Mannheimia haemolytica (MH) or PBS. Thirty-six crossbred steers (BW = 352 23 kg) seronegative for MH were randomly assigned to bronchoselective endoscopic inoculation with MH (n = 18) or PBS (n = 18). Electronic feed bunks were used to measure DMI and feeding behavior traits, accelerometer-based neck collars measured feeding- and activity-behavior traits, and ruminal thermo-boluses measured rumen temperature. Data were collected for 28 d prior to and following inoculation. Steers inoculated with MH exhibited elevated (P < 0.02) levels of neutrophils and rumen temperature indicating that MH challenge effectively stimulated immunologic responses. However, only nine of the MH steers exhibited increased serum haptoglobin concentrations indicative of an acute-phase protein response and one displayed clinical signs of disease. Shewhart charts (SPC procedure) were used for two analyses, and sensitivity was computed using all MH-challenged steers (n = 18), and a subset that included only MH-challenged haptoglobin-responsive steers (n = 9). Specificity was calculated using all PBS steers in both analyses. In the haptoglobin-responsive only analysis, DMI and bunk visit (BV) duration had the greatest accuracy (89%), with accuracies for head-down (HD) duration, BV frequency, time to bunk, and eating rate being less (83%, 69%, 53%, and 61%, respectively). To address the diurnal nature of rumen temperature, data were averaged over 6-h intervals, and quarterly temperature models were evaluated separately. Accuracy for the fourth quarter rumen temperature was higher (78%) than the other quarterly temperature periods (first = 56%, second = 50%, and third = 67%). In general, the accelerometer-based behavior traits were highly specific ranging from 82% for ingestion to 100% for rest, rumination, and standing. However, the sensitivity of these traits was low (0% to 50%), such that the accuracies were moderate compared with feeding behavior and rumen temperature response variables. These results indicate that Shewhart procedures can effectively identify deviations in feeding behavior and rumen temperature patterns to enable subclinical detection of BRD in beef cattle.