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What Is the Most Devastating Disease for US Cattle?

04 April 2013

ANALYSIS - Bovine respiratory disease is the most common and costly disease among feedlot cattle in the US, accounting for $1 billion annually in economic losses from death, reduced feed efficiency, and treatment costs, writes Sarah Mikesell, TheCattleSite senior editor.

Dimitri Popov, Senior Marketing Manager at Zoetis, discussed the cost of BRD and solutions for feedlot, stocker/backgrounders and cow/calf operations.

BRD is a general term for respiratory disease in cattle caused by a range of factors, singly or in combination. A major cause of economic losses, BRD affects the lower respiratory tract / lungs (pneumonia) or upper respiratory tract.

BRD is defined as a “disease complex” that is caused by a variety of pathogens that interact with one another and the animal’s immune system to produce full-blown disease. A major contributor to the disease complex is stress, including weaning, changes of feed, variation in ambient temperature and humidity, and weather.

Clinical signs of BRD in cattle depend on many factors but generally include fever, depression, lack of appetite, dullness, rapid, shallow breathing and coughing.

The key to preventing respiratory disease is to reduce stress and to vaccinate against viruses and bacteria that cause disease. If cattle become infected, work with your local veterinarian to identify appropriate antibiotics labelled for control of BRD.

Other ways to prevent BRD include:

  • Good cattle handling and stress reduction
  • Minimize exposure to environmental conditions that contribute to disease, such as dust, crowding, fumes.
  • Provide adequate rest, feed and water (especially after shipping).
  • Make sure animals receive adequate levels of essential nutrients such as vitamins and minerals.
  • Nutritional soundness also helps prevent disease and improves immune function.
  • Use low stress handling techniques.
  • Reduce and/or minimize pen movements.
  • Make sure bedding is clean and dry.
  • Keep animals as clean and dry as possible.
  • Avoid overcrowding.
  • Maintain good housing and ventilation.
  • Minimize heat stress.
  • Make sure animals receive the right deworming program in areas affected by lungworm.
  • Effective colostrum management.

Sarah Mikesell, Senior Editor

Sarah Mikesell, Senior Editor

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