The Effect of Stress on Reproduction and Reproductive Technologies in Beef Cattle—A Review
Bovitecnia, Veterinary Consulting, C/Arévalo 5, Colmenar Viejo, 28770 Madrid, Spain
Animal Reproduction Department, Instituto Nacional de Investigación y Tecnología Agraria y Alimentaria (INIA), Avda, Puerta de Hierro s/n, 28040 Madrid, Spain
Centro de Tecnología Animal—Instituto Valenciano de Investigaciones Agrarias (CITA-IVIA), Polígono La Esperanza 100, 12400 Segorbe, Spain
Facultad de Ciencias Biomédicas, Universidad Europea de Madrid, C/Tajo s/n, Villaviciosa de Odón, 28670 Madrid, Spain
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Received: 11 October 2020 / Revised: 7 November 2020 / Accepted: 9 November 2020 / Published: 11 November 2020
The economic sustainability of beef herds relies on achieving a reliable percentage of weaned calves. Efforts to lift reproductive efficiency of beef herds have traditionally focused on physical health and nutrition aspects, by extrapolating knowledge from dairy herds. However, animal welfare and stress on beef farms is of outstanding importance. Stress affects the economic sustainability of the farm directly by reducing productive and reproductive performance, as well as indirectly by pushing away customers, who demand farming practices that ensure better animal welfare and lower stress. Despite its relevance and the increasing efforts made by the industry, the detailed ways in which stress influences reproduction of beef herds are still not well understood. Trying to contribute to clarity and reviewing the huge advances made in this topic, we describe the major factors contributing to stress in beef cattle and the effects of that stress on their reproductive performance. We highlight main stressors in beef, such as cattle management, handling stress while passing through the chutes, social hierarchy or weaning effects, besides the nutritional and climate stress and include the acclimatization, acclimation and temperament. We pay attention to the beef bull. And finally, we point out strategies demonstrated to alleviate stressful situations, improving reproductive performance.