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Optimize cattle health on arrival


When a load of cattle arrives, producers know it's critical to have water, feed and a good health program ready, according to Lee Bob Harper, DVM, managing veterinarian, Pfizer Animal Health, Cattle and Equine Technical Services.

The first step to developing such a program is assessing the level of risk, which often can be done before the truck arrives. Among other factors, it's important to take into account past cattle health associated with the source/supplier, distance traveled, weather, age of the cattle and vaccination history.

Next, producers should work with their veterinarian to determine if on-arrival control for bovine respiratory disease is necessary. If the risk of loss due to poor health merits on-arrival control, consider a product with a longer post-metaphylaxis interval period. Simply put, a PMI is the amount of time to confidently wait before pulling an animal for first BRD treatment following metaphylaxis.

Some of today's antimicrobials are effective for a longer duration, allowing cattle to adjust to their new surroundings without additional handling that traditional antimicrobial choices may require. Options with a longer duration can also mean employees can spend more time on other aspects of the operation beyond treating sick calves.

To fully realize the benefits from a longer duration antimicrobial, it's important to respect the PMI and resist falling back into old habits of pulling and re-treating. Every additional treatment adds to the medical bill of a sick calf, but a change in routine to using a longer acting antimicrobial can have a direct affect on an operation's bottom line.

In addition to duration, it's also important to consider proven clinical effectiveness against important pathogens such as Mycoplasma bovis when producers and veterinarians are making on-arrival treatment selections. M. bovis can contribute to BRD, and not all antimicrobials can control this costly problem.

High-risk calves can have high rewards, and cattle health program is an important contributor to the outcome.

Date: 9/10/2012



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