When weaned calves hit the feedlot their new normal requires some adjustment. A certain percentage will always get sick, but good feedlot health managers can keep those numbers as morbidities, not mortalities.
Chris Thomsen of Belle Fourche, S.D., is a technical services veterinarian for Merck Animal Health. He says the top four feedlot calf health concerns are led by respiratory problems – also known as bovine respiratory disease, and followed by gastrointestinal disorders, muscular-skeletal ailments, and neurologic problems.
BRD is a disease complex – meaning it is caused by a wide range of factors, singly or in combination with each other. Environmental factors such as weaning, transportation, and new settings join with viruses and bacteria to impact respiratory function. According to animal health manufacturer Zoetis, BRD is the cause of 75 percent of illnesses and up to 70 percent of cattle deaths in feedlots.
BRD is treated with antibiotics, including both steroidal and non-steroidal. Some feedlot operations institute metaphylactic antibiotic treatment – or treating an entire pen of cattle with a standard dose – upon arrival. “If you have a high risk group of cattle it might warrant this, but most of the time with healthy, ranch-raised