Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:


Texas Tech Scientist Raises Concern of Using Beta Agonists in Beef Cattle


The challenge is the drug aids efficiency but raises incidences of death.

Use of certain animal drugs known as beta agonists in cattle production has received considerable national attention.

Guy Loneragan

A Texas Tech University veterinary epidemiologist has found that although there are significant societal benefits to the practice, an increase in death loss of cattle raises questions about welfare implications of its use.

In a peer-reviewed article published today (March 12) in PLOS ONE, Guy Loneragan, professor of food safety and public health in Texas Tech’s College of Agricultural Sciences and Natural Resources, adds to this ongoing national dialogue.

... more about:
»Cattle »beef »drugs

“Beta agonists improve the efficiency of beef production and this improvement provides important societal benefits,” Loneragan said.

“The beta agonists approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for use in cattle increase muscle growth and may reduce the amount of fat the cattle accumulates,” he said. “This means the cattle converts more of the feed it eats into beef, and it does this more efficiently.”

The article is co-authored by Daniel Thomson and Morgan Scott of Kansas State University and is titled “Increased mortality in groups of cattle administered the β-adrenergic agonists ractopamine hydrochloride and zilpaterol hydrochloride.” The manuscript is freely available at:

With the use of beta agonists, cattle require less feed and less water to produce the same amount of beef than if no beta agonists were used. Less land would be used to grow the crops used to feed the animals and, therefore, less fuel to produce the same amount of beef. The improvement in the efficiency of production has meaningful societal benefits.

“However, through our extensive analysis, we found that the incidence of death among cattle administered beta agonists was 75 to 90 percent greater than cattle not administered the beta agonists,” Loneragan said. “This increase in death loss raises critical animal-welfare questions. We believe an inclusive dialogue is needed to explore the use of animal drugs solely to improve performance, yet have no offsetting health benefits for the animals to which they are administered. This is particularly needed for those drugs that appear to adversely impact animal welfare, such as beta agonists.”

At a recent symposium held at Texas Tech, the world renowned animal behaviorist and welfare expert Temple Grandin headlined a discussion of beta agonists and animal welfare.

In a recent joint NPR interview with Loneragan and Grandin about beta agonists’ affect on animal welfare, Grandin said, “These problems have got to stop. I’ve laid awake at night about it. I’ve worked all my career to improve how animals are handled and these animals are just suffering. It has to stop.”

Grandin generally speaks on issues at the slaughter houses with lame cattle due to beta agonists, whereas Loneragan’s work covers beta agonists in feedlots, which is the topic of the newly published paper.

“To paraphrase Dr. Grandin, we owe the animals we raise for food a decent life and a decent death,” Loneragan said. “We certainly need to better understand the manner in which animals fed beta agonist die at the feedlot and work out how to balance the societal benefits of beta agonist use with societal expectations concerning the welfare of animals raised for food.”

Find Texas Tech news, experts and story ideas at Texas Tech Today Media Resources or follow us on Twitter.

CONTACT: Guy Loneragan, professor, Department of Animal and Food Sciences,(806) 834-1291 or

Leslie Cranford | newswise
Further information:

Further reports about: Cattle beef drugs

More articles from Agricultural and Forestry Science:

nachricht Covering the bases with cover crops
01.10.2015 | American Society of Agronomy

nachricht Innovative seeding machine to speed up kenaf planting
23.09.2015 | Universiti Putra Malaysia (UPM)

All articles from Agricultural and Forestry Science >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Reliable in-line inspections of high-strength automotive body parts within seconds

Nondestructive material testing (NDT) is a fast and effective way to analyze the quality of a product during the manufacturing process. Because defective materials can lead to malfunctioning finished products, NDT is an essential quality assurance measure, especially in the manufacture of safety-critical components such as automotive B-pillars. NDT examines the quality without damaging the component or modifying the surface of the material. At this year's Blechexpo trade fair in Stuttgart, Fraunhofer IZFP will have an exhibit that demonstrates the nondestructive testing of high-strength automotive body parts using 3MA. The measurement results are available in a matter of seconds.

To minimize vehicle weight and fuel consumption while providing the highest level of crash safety, automotive bodies are reinforced with elements made from...

Im Focus: Kick-off for a new era of precision astronomy

The MICADO camera, a first light instrument for the European Extremely Large Telescope (E-ELT), has entered a new phase in the project: by agreeing to a Memorandum of Understanding, the partners in Germany, France, the Netherlands, Austria, and Italy, have all confirmed their participation. Following this milestone, the project's transition into its preliminary design phase was approved at a kick-off meeting held in Vienna. Two weeks earlier, on September 18, the consortium and the European Southern Observatory (ESO), which is building the telescope, have signed the corresponding collaboration agreement.

As the first dedicated camera for the E-ELT, MICADO will equip the giant telescope with a capability for diffraction-limited imaging at near-infrared...

Im Focus: Locusts at the wheel: University of Graz investigates collision detector inspired by insect eyes

Self-driving cars will be on our streets in the foreseeable future. In Graz, research is currently dedicated to an innovative driver assistance system that takes over control if there is a danger of collision. It was nature that inspired Dr Manfred Hartbauer from the Institute of Zoology at the University of Graz: in dangerous traffic situations, migratory locusts react around ten times faster than humans. Working together with an interdisciplinary team, Hartbauer is investigating an affordable collision detector that is equipped with artificial locust eyes and can recognise potential crashes in time, during both day and night.

Inspired by insects

Im Focus: Physicists shrink particle accelerator

Prototype demonstrates feasibility of building terahertz accelerators

An interdisciplinary team of researchers has built the first prototype of a miniature particle accelerator that uses terahertz radiation instead of radio...

Im Focus: Simple detection of magnetic skyrmions

New physical effect: researchers discover a change of electrical resistance in magnetic whirls

At present, tiny magnetic whirls – so called skyrmions – are discussed as promising candidates for bits in future robust and compact data storage devices. At...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>



Event News

EHFG 2015: Securing healthcare and sustainably strengthening healthcare systems

01.10.2015 | Event News

Conference in Brussels: Tracking and Tracing the Smallest Marine Life Forms

30.09.2015 | Event News

World Alzheimer`s Day – Professor Willnow: Clearer Insights into the Development of the Disease

17.09.2015 | Event News

Latest News

Unexpected information about Earth's climate history from Yellow River sediment

09.10.2015 | Earth Sciences

Single atom alloy platinum-copper catalysts cut costs, boost green technology

09.10.2015 | Life Sciences

Indefatigable Hearing

09.10.2015 | Life Sciences

More VideoLinks >>>