Recommendations for Managing a BRD Breakout

Every producer needs to have a game plan for bovine respiratory disease (BRD). Having a plan of action will ensure the well-being of your cattle feeding operation and help sick cattle get back on feed as quickly as possible.

Throughout the cattle life cycle, there are times when cattle are more susceptible to BRD. Cattle that have been placed in high-stress situations should be monitored more closely. Producers should perform a daily assessment of their cattle. By doing this, producers have a better chance of identifying a sick animal early, which is vital to the effective management of BRD. The biggest reason for treatment failure is pulling an animal too late.

To learn more about what signs to look for, I encourage you to review my previous blog post, “Recognizing the Symptoms of BRD.” Every cattle facility is different, so it is important to identify a sick animal and move it to an area where treatment can be administered, the animal can be watched and it is kept separate from the healthy herd. To keep the outbreak from spreading, have a supply of fresh water available for the healthy animals. The sick animal needs to be able to eat without competition. Offering a nutritional-dense diet will give them the necessary nutrition and energy to fight the bacteria.

When thinking about treatment, it is vital to administer the appropriate product. A veterinarian can help determine the right one to use. A fast and long-acting antibiotic is recommended to control the bacteria present in the lungs. Once treatment has been administered, continue evaluation of the animal. If there are no visible signs of the animal responding to treatment over a 24 hour period, consult a veterinarian to determine further treatment options. Unfortunately, treatment may not always work. In a situation where the animal dies, it is important to perform a necropsy. These results will help to determine overall effectiveness of the treatment and the cause of death.

It’s also important to keep detailed records on each animal, especially when treating sick ones. These records are helpful when evaluating the overall situation and successful treatments along with protocols for future breakouts.

Having control of a BRD breakout is possible if producers are prepared and a game plan is established. By knowing what steps to take and treating BRD early, cattle can get back to the bunk quickly.

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