Liver abscesses—New perspectives on a historic fed-cattle issue


Purpose: Our purpose was to provide commentary and new perspectives related to liver abscesses, a historic problem in beef cattle, by describing and discussing docu- mented research, anecdotal observations, and opinions re- garding the causation, detection, and prevention of liver abscesses. Sources: Sources for this article include peer-reviewed, scientific literature; abstracts; proceedings; theses and dissertations; popular press articles; personal communica- tions; and unpublished research data. Synthesis: Liver abscess (LA) disease in cattle is a multifactorial, polymicrobial disease that has wide-rang- ing effects on productivity and profitability throughout all stages of the beef production cycle. The interest in and the study of LA has drastically increased in the past several years, driven largely by efforts to identify alterna- tives to the use of antibiotics for LA control. Although a primary, prevailing theory on LA formation has existed for decades, recent research has led to alternative theo- ries as well as new questions about the role of breed-type specific management, behavior, feed intake patterns, and other factors on LA causation. The inability to detect LA before slaughter complicates research evaluating mitiga- tion strategies and disease etiology. Moreover, the inability to detect LA in live cattle has hindered researcher efforts to understand timing of abscess development or whether an abscess can resolve. Conclusions and Applications: Although the prima- ry pathogens associated with LA have been identified, an effective mitigation strategy has eluded researchers. None- theless, new perspectives and research efforts are needed from both basic and applied perspectives using multidis- ciplinary, collaborative approaches to successfully combat the challenges faced by the beef industry related to LA.


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Broadway, P.R., Nagaraja, T.G., Lawrence, T.E., Galyean, M.L., & Hales, K.E.. 2024. Liver abscesses—New perspectives on a historic fed-cattle issue*†‡. Applied Animal Science, 40(3).