Undernutrition in Steers: Its Relation to Metabolism, Digestion, and Subsequent Realimentation

Undernutrition in Steers: Its Relation to Metabolism, Digestion, and Subsequent Realimentation

Undernutrition in Steers: Its Relation to Metabolism, Digestion, and Subsequent Realimentation

Undernutrition in Steers: Its Relation to Metabolism, Digestion, and Subsequent Realimentation

Excerpt

During the period of stress of the Great War attention was repeatedly fixed on the importance of conservation of food resources and, to a certain extent, on the possibilities of curtailing the food intake at certain stages of animal and human life. This latter consideration led to a number of physiological observations on men, partly of laboratory and partly of a nation-wide nature. The final conclusions were that with adult humans a considerable curtailment in food intake may obtain for many months without serious, permanent detriment, and that the safety factors of the animal body are so great as to permit complete recuperation after a prolonged period of submaintenance food intake, although even now it is not settled as to how long such underfeeding can be carried out with man with full recuperation still possible. Extensive experience in the complete withdrawal of food for both short and long periods with men showed clearly that such withdrawal was not especially distressing and certainly left no demonstrably injurious after-effects. It can be safely stated that a complete withdrawal of food of from two days to a week is not injurious to the human organism. Indeed, one observation where the subject was studied during a 31-day fast showed a phenomenal retention of physical and mental powers, with ultimately complete recuperation. Based upon these extensive experiences with humans, it seemed not inadvisable to attempt observations on large domestic animals, with a primary object of noting the influence of prolonged undernutrition upon the physiology and general welfare of such animals. Entirely aside from the profound physiological interest attached to such a study of undernutrition is the fact that the great economic problems attending beef production are in the last analysis closely interwoven with scientific feeding, and we have as yet only an incomplete answer to the question, What is scientific stock feeding? In the light of our studies with humans, information as to the effect of undernutrition, if not indeed complete fasting, in beef animals is certainly essential to a full knowledge of the science of feeding.

The commonest rule in practical as well as in supposedly scientific livestock feeding implies that a most liberal provision of food under any and all conditions (i. e., maintenance, growth, and production) is a prime requisite of good management and a procedure essential to profit. While this seems to have been a sound rule during our earlier period of overproduction in crops, and applicable especially to the corn-belt sections of our country, it is becoming increasingly clear that its application to conditions with less prolific indigenous feed supplies must be open to severe criticism.

It is axiomatic that the finished animal products can be transported to market much more cheaply than the raw products (hay, fodder, and concentrated feeds) required to produce them, and it therefore follows, as a logical corollary, that such feedstuffs can be most economically converted into animal products in the section where they are grown, where there is the least handling, and (what is of even greater importance) when subjected to the least possible trade manipula-

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