Winter cold and storms are right around the corner, and the risk for bovine respiratory disease (BRD) in your cattle may be right around the corner as well. A little planning can go a long way in handling the pressures of Mother Nature and managing your cattle to stay ahead of a BRD outbreak.
Phillip Kesterson, DVM, Beef Technical Services, Zoetis suggests considering these four factors this season:
• Temperature fluctuations. While humans may enjoy “layering weather,” it can be hard on cattle in grow yards. When the morning starts out cold, then warms up 30 degrees or more during the day and cools off again at night, we can remove or add layers, but cattle can’t. The fluctuations can cause respiratory stress, so watch cattle for signs of illness.
• Dusty days. Dry weather can cause respiratory issues for cattle in dry lots. While you do everything you can to address and mitigate this issue, you can’t do much if Mother Nature doesn’t provide some moisture. Keep an eye on cattle during the dusty days for signs of distress.
• Commingling Issues. You might be thinking the risk is past, but don’t be overconfident that your cattle are beyond the period of vulnerability caused by commingling. Mixing cattle exposes them to new pathogens when immune systems may be suppressed, so keeping a constant eye on emerging signs of disease is important.
• Long-duration treatments. With labor often in short supply, using a long-duration anti-infective treatment for BRD allows for returning cattle to their home pens where they feel more comfortable, thus decreasing the likelihood of subsequent treatments.
Speaking of treatments, what’s your strategy?
If you do encounter a BRD issue, having a set protocol and plan for treatment is essential to help get cattle feeling better and back on feed.