Cattle Feeding: Factors Affecting Shrink
Several factors impact shrink including transit time, transit distance, environmental conditions (weather and transit conditions), cattle handling methods, and cattle management including nutrition. Research indicates that the combined effects of shipping and handling result in greater weight loss than holding cattle off of feed and water alone. Transit shrink in beef steers has been demonstrated to represent as much as 68% of the shrink from the combination of both fasting and transport. Weight loss varies depending on the circumstances, but a good rule of thumb estimate is that about 0.75% of cattle body weight will be lost per day with feed and water deprivation, and the weight loss will not necessarily be the same amount each day. When feed and water are unavailable, study results indicate that cattle shrink about 1% per hour for the first three to four hours and then roughly 0.25% per hour for the next eight to ten hours. This weight loss can increase several-fold when transport stress is added.