When animals become sick, I treat them as soon as possible based on the symptoms we see. Is there a practical, cost-effective way to determine the specific pathogen involved without delaying treatment?

Your question raises an important point. If you ask producers what animals died from on their operations, they can almost always tell us. But when you start to peel back the onion, that response is almost always based on what they were treating those animals for. Then, when you do necropsies to discover what those animals actually died from, often the assumed “diagnosis” based on treatment information only is incorrect. Often times, diseases affect  many animal in a group.  That is why it is important for producers not to waste the opportunity to understand  an early death loss with diagnostics and a necropsy and to help direct future treatments.

The best way to know the cause of an illness is to first collect a diagnostic sample your veterinarian or a laboratory can use to develop a specific diagnosis. If the animal’s symptoms warrant immediate treatment, then work with your veterinarian to determine the treatment while awaiting test results. Once the diagnostic results are available, your veterinarian can not only identify whether to adjust treatment for the individual animal, but also consider whether changes to your herd-health protocols are needed based on this new information.

That is why it is important for producers to not waste the opportunity to understand an early death loss by using diagnostics and necropsy, which can help direct future treatments.