Source: Pfizer Animal Health
Passing on respiratory vaccinations can leave producers and cattle vulnerable.
No matter the type of operation, bovine respiratory disease (BRD) can be difficult and costly for all producers to manage. In fact, BRD cost producers nearly $1 billion in economic losses last year from death, reduced feed efficiency and treatment costs, yet a 2007-2008 study showed that only 40% of beef operations typically vaccinated calves against respiratory disease before a sale.
After working with clients that manage cow-calf, backgrounding and feedlot operations, Brad Gloystein, DVM, Gloystein Veterinary Clinic, York, Neb., knows how much money can be lost when it comes to treating BRD. That’s why he recommends producers work to help prevent BRD before it becomes a problem.
“Producers that don’t vaccinate their cattle are playing with fire and, in those situations, we definitely see outbreaks of BRD,” Gloystein says. “But, our producers are progressive and educated and they know that neglecting to vaccinate cattle isn’t worth the risk.”
Separately, viral agents like infectious bovine rhinotracheitis (IBR), parainfluenza type 3 (PI3), bovine virus diarrhea (BVD) or bovine respiratory syncytial virus (BRSV) often lead to mild clinical signs related to each disease. However, when combined with other bacterial agents — and even stressful events like weaning — they can lead to a much more complicated disease like BRD.
“There’s no doubt that stress is a big part of it,” Gloystein says. “Outside of weaning, weather can be one of the biggest stressors. If you get weather changes during weaning — or even when transporting cattle — producers may have problems with BRD. That’s why vaccinating is so important.”
According to Gerald Stokka, DVM, Veterinary Operations, Pfizer Animal Health, treatment costs may not be the only costs producers will absorb if cattle become sick due to BRD.
“At the feedlot, calves that survived respiratory disease may not grow as fast or as large as calves that have not been affected,” Stokka says. “In fact, even cattle that were treated just once for BRD had lower average daily gains and carcass weights, and less marbling when compared with nontreated cattle — a direct result of cattle being off feed while they were sick.”
Stokka recommends producers consult their veterinarians to choose vaccination products and programs that will best fit the needs and goals of their individual operations.
“It’s important for vaccination programs to start at the cow/calf level,” Stokka says. “Producers should work with their veterinarian to develop a vaccination program that can help ensure a healthy start for calves and to help protect their future performance and productivity all the way through the production chain. Veterinarians also can help producers look for vaccines with high quality control standards, the most supportive peer-reviewed research, and vaccines that will offer strong label claims and a suitable duration of immunity.”