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Antibiotics are commonly used for the treatment of
respiratory disease in cattle which accounts for a large
proportion of overall usage. Frequent repeated treatments
of individual cases or blanket treatment of entire groups
of in-contact animals is a contributing factor to the level
of antibiotics used on farm. Increasing pressure is being
applied upon vets to reduce the reliance on antibiotic use
on farm and in particular the critically important antibiotics,
in the e ort to maintain their e ectiveness into the future.
Bovine respiratory disease is a multifactorial disease
of young and growing animals and it remains a major
source of economic loss to beef and dairy farmers. The
cost of a disease outbreak is often underestimated. The
impact of infection and failure of the animal to reach
their full productive potential are often overlooked. The
cost implications of BRD in cattle is di cult to quantify
due to the time lag between the period of illness and
productive life. The average rearing cost of a replacement
dairy heifer is estimated to be 1545 (Teagasc).
The increased cost of rearing a heifer that experiences
at least one disease event is on average 95 higher
than healthy cohorts. Data indicates that BRD lowers
daily weight gain on average by 91 grams/day. Lung
damage is associated with reduced growth due to
decreased feed intake, decreased feed e ciency and
increased metabolic demands for immune functions.
To achieve growth targets, healthy lungs are vital.
There is strong correlation between the pre-weaning
weight gain of replacement dairy heifers and future
Early protection is key to
reducing the risk of bovine
respiratory disease
Despite the availability of
e ective bovine respiratory
vaccines as well as in depth
knowledge of the risk factors,
bovine respiratory disease
(BRD) remains the most
common cause of sickness
and death in cattle throughout
life, from one month old
onwards. Sarah Campbell MVB
MRCVS, Veterinary Technical
Advisor, MSD Animal Health,
advises on best practice
Respiratory infection
GIT infections
Systemic infections
GIT torsion/obstruction
GIT ulcer/perforation
Clostridal disease
Central Nervous
Urinary Tract conditions
Naval ill/Joint ill
BVD/Mucosal Disease
Other Diagnoses
diagnosis not reached
Figure one: Conditions most frequently diagnosed on post-mortem
in calves between one month and six months old. Note respiratory
disease accounts for approximately half of all deaths. Ref: All Island
disease surveillance report