Murray State Theses and Dissertations


Transportation stress is a major factor increasing the risk of bovine respiratory disease (BRD) in young calves. Bovine respiratory disease is currently the most economically important disease affecting the cattle industry, costing producers millions of dollars annually. Cannabidiol (CBD) has shown therapeutic benefits in other species, making it a potential tool to use as a supplement to reduce transportation and weaning stress in calves. However, little information is available on cannabinoid bioavailability and disposition of bioactive residue in livestock tissues. The objectives of these studies were to evaluate effective dosage rates of a cannabinoid gel on beef cattle and to determine its effects on weaning and transportation stress. The pilot study served as a short pharmacokinetic study to determine an effective dosage rate for the gel and to observe plasma cannabinoid clearance rate. Two mature cows were dosed at 2.5 mg/kg. Plasma samples were collected at 0, 0.5, 1, 2, 4, 8, 12, 16, and 24 hours following treatment administration. A second, longer study was conducted after the pilot was completed. Phase 1 investigated effects of cannabinoid administration on weaning stress in 27 beef calves. Phase 2 evaluated effects of the same cannabinoid supplement on the same calves during a transportation period. Based on results from the pilot study a dosage rate for the calves was set at 5.0 mg/kg. At weaning, calves were treated and blood was collected at 0, 6, 12, 24, 48 ,72, and 96 hours post treatment and evaluated for complete blood count (CBC) and serum chemistry panels. Video observations were taken using a drone multiple times a day for 4 d to observe weaning stress behaviors. Behaviors observed included bawling, pacing, and standing at fence-line. Phase 2 investigated the effect of treatment on transportation stress in the same 27 calves, approximately a week after the start of phase 1. Calves were dosed again before being loaded onto a trailer for the transportation segment. Treatment was the same as phase 1. Blood samples, body weights, chute scores and exit velocities were collected pre- and post-transportation. Statistical analysis was conducted on CBC, serum chemistry, and behavior evaluations using the PROC MIXED procedure of SAS. In the pilot study, metabolite CBD7-acid was detected as early as 8 hours and on an upward trend at the end of sampling. Phase 1 CBC and serum chemistry values were within normal reference ranges; however, differences were observed for monocytes (CON=0.92 LSM, TRT=0.69 LSM, P<0.0001). Interactions were observed for white blood cell (P=0.03), red blood cell (P=0.02), hematocrit (P=0.03), and eosinophils (P=0.04). Phase 1 and 2 serum chemistry analysis found significance for CPK (P=0.05), Bilirubin (P=0.05), and glucose (P=0.04). No statistical significance was found for any of the behavior evaluations. Results suggest that cannabinoid treatment may mitigate a stress response in cattle based on the effects on stress biomarkers within blood analysis.

Year manuscript completed


Year degree awarded


Author's Keywords

Beef, Cattle, Stress, Cannabinoid, Hemp, Weaning

Thesis Advisor

Thomas Powell

Committee Member

Amanda Davis

Committee Member

Shea Porr

Committee Member

Brian Hoover

Document Type


Included in

Beef Science Commons