A multidisciplinary research team from Kansas State University will study risk management strategies to help reduce the health and economic effects of bovine respiratory disease complex in commercial feeder cattle.

Principle investigator David Renter, director of the new Center for Outcomes Research and Education in the university's College of Veterinary Medicine, has received a $489,466 Agriculture and Food Research Initiative Competitive Grant for the project from the U.S. Department of Agriculture's National Institute of Food and Agriculture.

"This is a really significant initiative at the Center for Outcomes Research and Education," said Renter, who is a professor of epidemiology in the College of Veterinary Medicine's diagnostic medicine and pathobiology department. "This is a four-year project that involves several truly exceptional faculty."

The research team includes Kansas State University's Mike Sanderson, professor, and Natalia Cernicchiaro, assistant professor, both of diagnostic medicine and pathobiology; Robert Larson, professor, and Brad White, associate professor, both of clinical sciences; Ted Schroeder, university distinguished professor of agricultural economics; and Nora Bello, associate professor of statistics.

"Bovine respiratory disease complex is the most common cause of sickness and death in U.S. feeder cattle," Renter said. "Every year, it costs the U.S. beef industry an estimated $4 billion and negatively affects the well-being of millions of animals. Our long-term goal is to reduce the health and economic impacts of bovine respiratory disease complex by utilizing scientific and industry knowledge to improve disease management."

To reach this goal, Renter said there is clearly a need to concurrently develop health and economic risk management strategies that combine the best science with data from commercial beef cattle production systems. The data generated in the research will reflect the different types of cattle populations and production settings in the industry, and will enable the scientific results and approaches to be directly relevant to reducing the impacts of bovine respiratory disease complex in the U.S. beef industry.

"Our research goal is to develop strategies that differentiate bovine respiratory disease complex risks among diverse feeder cattle populations and identify sustainable approaches to reducing the disease in these animal populations," he said. "We will achieve this goal through three interrelated research objectives. We also will collaborate with cattle producers and veterinarians to generate more detailed information on how feeder calves were managed prior to feedlot purchase by studying groups of feeder cattle in different segments of the beef industry."

Renter said that collectively, the research approaches, combined with industry partnerships, will enable his research team to develop risk management strategies that lead to immediate and sustainable reduction of the effects of bovine respiratory disease complex in the U.S. beef industry.