Despite the variability in treatment response, there are some protocols producers can follow to treat the BRD complex. The most important rule is to work with your veterinarian to develop a program that works, and stick with it. What works for one operation may not work for another and utilizing a veterinarian allows for an objective evaluation of the operation’s treatment protocol.
When selecting an anti-infective, there are a number of factors to consider. “The presence of viruses in a BRD-infected calf can explain a lack of treatment response from an anti-infective,” explains Scruggs. “The virus often stays past the duration of the anti-infective and remains active long enough for the virus to synch up with bacteria after the antimicrobial has depleted.”
An extended-therapy anti-infective can help ensure that the product remains on board long enough to treat the bacteria and outlast the ability of the virus to match up with bacteria. The antimicrobial has no effect on the virus of course, but it can help minimize the effect of the bacterial super infection that may occur. In addition to the therapeutic length of the product, the breadth of bacterial coverage is also important. Because the BRD complex usually includes a combination of bacteria, make sure your anti-infective treats a wide range of pathogens, including Mycoplasma bovis, to obtain satisfactory treatment results.
“When health becomes the limiting factor in production it is probably costing you a lot more than just the medicine bill and death loss,” states Scruggs. “Almost every producer has encountered a situation where poor health in cattle has limited their ability to buy more cattle or has limited the return they got for groups of cattle. Those lost opportunity costs are hard to quantify, but they are there, and may eclipse the medicine bill. Implementing protocols that minimize stress, manage viruses, control bacteria and effectively treat BRD are important to maintaining a producer’s bottom line.”
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