Top 10 BRD Articles of 2019

In spite of generally favorable living conditions, preweaned calves often suffer losses from BRD. ( John Maday )

Bovine respiratory disease (BRD) remains the most common and costly health problem for beef cattle producers, and progress sometimes seems elusive. Research continues though, and veterinarians have a growing inventory of tools and strategies for minimizing losses associated with the BRD complex on feedyards, ranches and dairies. 

1. Genomic Tools for Understanding BRD

While environmental factors and host genetics heavily influence BRD morbidity rates, understanding the genomic and molecular biology tools also can improve our understanding of BRD pathogens and the communities of other microorganisms that help keep those pathogens at bay.

During the 2019 BRD Symposium in Denver, several presenters outlined technologies including molecular diagnostics and genomic sequencing for non-pathogenic microbes colonizing the bovine respiratory system. Read more.

2. BRD Costs Persist

While the cattle industry continues to refine preventive measures, treatments and overall management, feedlot morbidity, mortality and costs associated with bovine respiratory disease (BRD) stubbornly refuse to improve. A concerted, multi-sector effort could shift that trend, but significant progress will require some fundamental changes in the ways cattle are managed throughout the production and marketing chain.

That message was clear when Oklahoma State University economist Derrell Peel, PhD, presented on the economics of BRD during the recent symposium in Denver. Peel says that in spite of industry efforts, feedlot death losses associated with BRD have inched higher since 1994. Read more.

3. Systemic BRD Solutions

Research and practical experience have shown a genetic component to the ability of individual cattle, or sire lines, to resist BRD pathogens. Identifying the genes involved and developing genomic-assisted selection tools for health, however, takes hard work and lots of data.

During the BRD Symposium, several presenters outlined research efforts to identify and quantify those genetic influences. Read more.

4. BRD Risk: Look at the Big Picture

Assessing the risk of cattle needing treatment for bovine respiratory disease (BRD) requires consideration of far more than exposure to pathogens.

During the recent BRD symposium in Denver, Mississippi State University professor David Smith, DVM, PhD, noted that pathogens represent a “causal agent” in respiratory disease. However, while a causal agent is “necessary” for disease, it might not be “sufficient” to cause disease on its own. Read more.

5. BRD in Dairy: Costs and Risk Factors

The incidence and severity of bovine respiratory disease (BRD) in dairy cattle varies widely, making economic impacts difficult to quantify. But according to Elanco veterinarian Michael Overton, the overall cost in replacement heifers probably runs higher than most dairy producers realize.

During the recent BRD Symposium in Denver, Overton summarized some existing data and a recent study involving 104,000 heifers from 23 herds where managers consistently collected data on BRD. Read more.

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