Bovine Respiratory Disease is estimated to be the most costly disease of beef cattle, resulting in almost one-third of cattle deaths and costing the industry approximately $1 billion annually. Scientists believe BRD is triggered by certain management practices that put additional stress on calves. Some of these stress factors include:
- Processing and weaning calves right before delivery
- Shipping during weather extremes
- Making sudden changes in diet
- Dehorning and castrating
But controlling BRD also requires that you learn how to properly evaluate and manage cattle on arrival. Carefully watch calves that were shipped long distances or passed through a holding facility. Keep the animals isolated before turning out with other calves. Try to identify and purchase calves from a seller with a known vaccination and parasite control program. To limit your risk, avoid buying lightweight calves from an unknown origin.
Once cattle arrive, give them one night to rest prior to processing and avoid overcrowding pens. Then begin working cattle early in the morning and follow your veterinarian's vaccination recommendations.