Pulling and treating cattle early is essential to effectively control disease — especially respiratory disease — so checking cattle on a regular basis is important. If you pull the cattle too late, treatment is not going to be effective. Symptoms of disease typically are shown between seven and 21 days of arrival. You may have to check cattle more often just after arrival to determine animals that might need to be pulled and treated.

Observe cattle at feeding time and see which animals are eating and which animals are lagging behind. For pasture cattle, you want to check the cattle in the morning and evening to observe their behavior when they’re moving around. If you notice an animal that is staying away from the group, that animal may need to be pulled since cattle typically stay pretty close to the herd.

Also, observe the rumen fill, not body condition, on the animal. Look for good rumen fill to see that they’ve been eating and drinking.  Kansas State University Veterinarian Brad White says that with stockers, many cattle come off the truck in thin body, but watching the gut fill can help determine if an animal is off food and water.

While observation is the best judge for which animals to pull, also use a thermometer when determining respiratory disease problems. Temperature helps determine if a particular animal is sick but also helps determine if you’re pulling deep enough in the herd.

For example, White says that if all of the cattle you pull have a temperature over 105º F, then you may need to pull some more. You want to make the error on pulling too many cattle rather than pulling too few. If you have 80 to 90 percent of the cattle with temperatures over 105º F and 10 to 20 percent with temperatures under 104º F, then you’ve probably pulled the right number of cattle.

BRD symptoms

  • Temp 104º-106º F
  • Head down
  • Ears low
  • Sunken flanks
  • Nasal discharge
  • Decreased appetite

Source: Brad White, DVM, KSU