WT Professors Named Guest Editors for Prestigious National Veterinary Publication


CANYON, Texas — Two West Texas A&M University agricultural science professors were the lead editors for a new review of research into liver abscesses in cattle for a major national veterinary medicine publication.

Dr. Ty Lawrence, WT’s Caviness Davis Distinguished Chair in Meat Science and professor of animal science, and Dr. John Richeson, WT’s Paul Engler Professor of Beef Cattle Feedlot Management and associate professor of animal science, headed up the November edition of “Veterinary Clinics of North America: Food Animal Practice,” which offers readers expert, state-of-the-art reviews on a single topic three times a year.

“Liver abscesses are a challenge that’s very prevalent in cattle, and there has never been a focus on liver abnormalities in the publication,” Richeson said. “It was an honor to be asked, and I was happy to ask Ty to work with me because he is such an expert in this field.”

In addition to researchers, industry experts and scholars from around the area, Lawrence and Richeson relied on the expertise of colleagues such as Dr. Paul Morley, director of food animal research and professor, and Dr. Benjamin Newcomer, clinical associate professor and dairy cattle veterinarian, both of whom are jointly faculty members in WT’s Paul Engler College of Agriculture and Natural Sciences and the Veterinary Education, Research and Outreach Program collaborative veterinary school with Texas A&M University School of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences.

“We’ve been researching liver abscesses since the mid- to late-1970s at WT, so we know a lot of what to do and what not to do,” Lawrence said. “But the reality is, there’s an economic impetus to aggressively feed cattle, which is why this still tends to be a problem.”

Liver abscesses often occur in feedlot cattle because they are fed a high-energy, low-roughage diet in order to reach the desired quality grades weight prior to slaughter.

“There are reasons to feed them this diet, but there are consequences to that, and this is one of the biggest,” Lawrence said.

And finding ways to prevent these abnormalities ultimately has financial implications for feedlots.

“Severe abscesses decrease growth in cattle because they are not metabolizing nutrients as efficiently as they could be, which leads to smaller cattle with less marbling and a lighter weight,” Lawrence said. “The processer can’t sell that liver, and they may not be able to sell the other offal because it might also have been condemned. That’s a loss of up to $150 per animal, and that’s when processers start getting upset and questioning the need to buy cattle from you.”

“It also interrupts the processing chain,” Richeson said. “If you have a bunch of condemnations, that can stop the chain, and every second it’s stopped, that’s thousands of dollars lost.”

Articles in the “Veterinary Clinics” issue explain the disease, its primary causes, the feeding outcomes, consequences for cattle feeders and an economic analysis.

Meeting area needs as a regional research university is the primary goal of the University’s long-range plan, WT 125: From the Panhandle to the World.

That plan is fueled by the historic, $125 million One West comprehensive fundraising campaign. To date, the five-year campaign — which publicly launched in September 2021 — has raised more than $110 million.