Bovine respiratory disease (BRD) is an economic challenge to dairy producers. It continues to be the major cause of death in weaned calves and can lead to poor performance later in a cow’s life.

Dr. Mark van der List, Professional Services Veterinarian with Boehringer Ingelheim Vetmedica, Inc. (BIVI), suggests implementing the following management practices on your operation to help reduce the impact of BRD in your herd:

Reduce cow stress

BRD often presents itself in times of stress: weaning, feed variations, high humidity, calving and season changes. During these periods, it’s important to reduce stress factors and keep a close watch on your herd. Stress can also lead to immunosuppression — especially around calving. A focus on cow comfort and other management practices, including avoiding overcrowding, using low-stress handling techniques, and good calving management can help reduce stress and improve transition cow health.

Ensure proper housing

One of the biggest risk factors for BRD is poor ventilation. Make sure cows are in an area where there is fresh air flow, with clean, dry bedding to improve cow comfort.

Monitor herd closely

Recognize the signs of sickness, especially after calving. Fever, increased respiratory rate, discolored nasal discharge and coughing are all symptoms of BRD. Work with your veterinarian to properly treat a cow with pneumonia.

Implement a sound vaccination program

Vaccination against BRD is crucial to prevention. Take the time to vaccinate cows in the dry period to help boost not only the cow’s immunity, but also to boost immunoglobulins in colostrum and start the calf off on the right foot. Dr. van der List recommends working with your local veterinarian to develop a vaccination program to prevent BRD in your herd.