Do you vaccinate your calves against respiratory disease?

Here’s why order buyers pay less for high-risk calves

Nevil Speer

April 25, 2016

2 Min Read
Do you vaccinate your calves against respiratory disease?

During the past several weeks, Industry At A Glance has focused on BVD. It’s been highlighted as the result of a recent one-day industry symposium on BVD< in Kansas City hosted by the National Institute for Animal Agriculture, in partnership with the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association. The purpose of the symposium was to address producer education, prevention strategies and discuss industry-wide solutions going forward.   

BVD is an important and costly disease in the beef industry. There are a whole host of symptoms associated with BVD, including diarrhea, decreased milk production and reproductive disorders. However, perhaps most important is BVD’s role as an immunosuppressant and subsequent risk factor for bovine respiratory disease (BRD) in newly-weaned and/or received feeder cattle.

Because of to the interactive nature of various stressors and risk factors, quantification of individual risk relative to BRD is very difficult. Stressors, either individually or in combination, cause several important responses in newly-arrived feedlot calves. Physiological response results in some degree of immunosuppression. However, BVD further confounds those complications.  Therefore, exposure to one or more of persistently infected (PI) calves in a set of newly-weaned and/or received feeder cattle can prove especially challenging. 

The industry has some work to do from an educational standpoint around BVD. Additionally, Industry At A Glance has also featured some discussion around the need for improved vaccination and calving season management to prevent PI calves. 

number of time beef calves are vaccinated

Meanwhile, though, pre-weaning and pre-shipping prevention protocols can help to minimize morbidity risk of feeder cattle and buffer against negative effects associated with potential exposure to PI during the marketing process. Accordingly, this week’s illustration features the current status of respiratory disease vaccination, categorized by herd size, among U.S. beef producers. 

What’s your perception of general prevention trends in the U.S beef industry? Are you vaccinating your calves prior to weaning and/or shipping?  What steps are you taking to reduce BVD and BRD risk in your operation? Leave your thoughts in the comments section below. 

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About the Author(s)

Nevil Speer

Nevil Speer serves as an industry consultant and is based in Bowling Green, KY.

Nevil Speer has extensive experience and involvement with the livestock and food industry including various service and consultation projects spanning such issues as market competition, business and economic implications of agroterrorism, animal identification, assessment of price risk and market volatility on the producer segment, and usage of antibiotics in animal agriculture.
Dr. Speer writes about many aspects regarding agriculture and the food industry with regular contribution to BEEF and Feedstuffs.  He’s also written several influential industry white papers dealing with issues such as changing business dynamics in the beef complex, producer decision-making, and country-of-origin labeling.
He serves as a member of the Board of Directors for the National Institute for Animal Agriculture.
Dr. Speer holds both a PhD in Animal Science and a Master’s degree in Business Administration.

Contact him at [email protected].

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