With this post, we begin a two-part series on building BRD immunity in young calves. Terry Engelken, DVM, MS, an associate professor at Iowa State University College of Veterinary Medicine, is a guest blogger.
BRD is the leading cause of death in beef calves 3 weeks of age or older.1 A recent multi-university survey of 61 veterinarians in six states provides insights into practitioners’ experiences with BRD in nursing calves.1
What steps do you take to build immunity in your nursing calves? When do you vaccinate your nursing calves for BRD?
In the survey, inadequate colostrum was identified as a key risk factor. Anything that interferes with the calf standing up rapidly and nursing aggressively can impact the amount of colostrum it receives. We know from extensive research – and practical experience – that calves that don’t receive enough colostrum run a higher risk of developing calf scours early in life followed by BRD while they are out on pasture.
Other factors – such as maternal nutritional management (protein, energy and trace minerals), genetic selection and heifer development as it relates to dystocia, mud and overcrowding in the calving area, and calving heifers and cows together – will all increase the risk of failure of passive transfer, calf scours and the eventual development of BRD during the suckling period.
More than 85 percent of the veterinarians who responded to the survey recommend vaccination of nursing calves to prevent BRD or to shorten the duration of outbreaks. In our next post, we’ll explore options to help reduce the losses associated with BRD.
- Woolums, A. R., Berghaus, R. D., Smith, D. R., White, B. J., Engelken, T. J., Irsik, M. B., Matlik, D. K., Jones, A. L., Smith I. J. (2013, September). A survey of veterinarians in six states in the US regarding their experience with nursing beef calf respiratory disease: Proceedings of the American Association of Bovine Practitioners Annual Conference (pp. 177-178). Milwaukee, WI: American Association of Bovine Practitioners.