How avoiding BRD in the first two months
leads to better long-term weight gain
Bovine respiratory disease (BRD) is one of the leading causes of both morbidity and mortality in dairy calves. As such, it is also a major source of economic loss in the dairy industry.
BRD's impact on long-term performance
In recent years, as the number of calves being raised on dairy farms has grown, the opportunities for and risks of spreading the disease have increased dramatically. With the above in mind, it's important to look at BRD's impact on the long-term performance of dairy calves. In their paper 'The hidden cost of a hidden disease: growth performance of calves as affected by bovine respiratory disease using ultrasonography', Spanish researchers Carolina Tejero and Alex Bach do just that. They monitored 1,066 heifer calves for BRD for the first 60 days of life. 533 calves (exactly half of the heifers in the study) contracted BRD and were immediately treated with antibiotics. Their BRD was classified as either lobular pneumonia type 1 (1 cm of tissue consolidation), type 2 (2 cm), type 3 (3 cm), or lobar pneumonia (consolidated lobe). The researchers sought to determine if these incidences of BRD contracted in those first two months of life impacted long-term growth performance. And what did they find?