When considering profit, it is much easier for producers to sell calves that have always been healthy rather than those treated for disease, reported Washington State University Extension. While it is important to work to prevent disease, when it is necessary to treat it is most important to be effective in minimizing the impacts of Bovine Respiratory Disease Complex (BRD) in the cow/calf herd.

One of the most important pieces to treatment is early detection. BRD occurs most frequently in beef calves between 70 and 170 days old, though it can be contracted at any time. Some early symptoms of BRD include an increase in clinical score within two days of bacterial challenge, anorexia, fever and pain sensitivity.

When cow/calf producers are checking for respiratory disease, it’s necessary to check the calf for difficulty in breathing, a cough, nasal discharge, a change in demeanor and signs of dehydration. By checking these regularly and defining the disease, the cattle producer and the veterinarian can begin to develop treatment protocols for the ranch.

Once the disease is identified and the treatment protocol is in place, it is important for producers to focus on effectively treating the disease. Often, even after a successful treatment for BRD, calves do not gain as well as their peers. Making sure to effectively treat the animal so that it only needs one round of treatment is key to the calf’s future performance.

It may not be possible to keep 100 percent of cattle healthy, but by identifying effective treatment protocols for BRD, calves will grow better and end up with a higher net profit.

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