Prevention best defence against BRD

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Bob GarnantThe West Australian
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Bovine Dynamics consultant Matthew George, Esperance veterinarian Enoch Bergman, ALFA vice-chairman Jim Cudmore and MLA feedlot project manager Joseph McMeniman at the conference.
Camera IconBovine Dynamics consultant Matthew George, Esperance veterinarian Enoch Bergman, ALFA vice-chairman Jim Cudmore and MLA feedlot project manager Joseph McMeniman at the conference. Credit: Countryman

An extra $60 million could be saved within the Australian feedlot industry using a preventative approach to bovine respiratory disease complexities.

Esperance veterinarian Enoch Bergman said the three factors associated with BRD was the activity of the host animal’s defences (natural or acquired), environmental factors, and the impact of viral and bacterial agents.

“BRD involves the complexity of four viral agents and four bacterial agents,” he said.

“Initiated by high stress levels, calves are most prone to the disease within the first four weeks on feed.”

Dr Bergman said US studies had identified low-risk calves as those which are preconditioned with an entry-level weight of 375kg.

“It was the 1967 Oklahoma State University initiative that coined the term preconditioned to mean the vaccination and preparation of calves for marketing to feedlots,” he said.

Mr Bergman said he held true to the US bovine practitioners who developed a formal set of guidelines including wean at least three weeks prior to feedlot introduction and vaccinate for clostridial diseases and BRD pathogens.

“Managing for BRD at the feedlot lies primarily in the cow/calf or backgrounder’s hands,” he said.

“Calves will be the most prepared for the feedlot disease challenge if immunised in advance.”

Bovine Dynamics consultant Matthew George also emphasised the importance of better managed animal health, with costs presently exceeding gains.

“We need to create adoption of animal health responsibility pre-feedlot,” he said.

Dr George also stressed the need for a carcase yield recognition system which would increase values proportionate to technology and non-technology use.

“This would better stimulate rate of genetic change and adoption of breeding index and other molecular-based technologies,” he said.

“Inflation is beating us, other species are beating us and we are faced with international competitive threats.”

Bringing visitors up to date with the industry, Australian Lot Feeders Association vice-chairman Jim Cudmore said a National Feedlot Accreditation Scheme review was completed in 2015 with 17 recommendations.

“These included a new definition of a cattle feedlot and a review of incidence reporting and contingency planning,” he said.

“Feedlot means where cattle are accommodated with watering facilities and stocking density of 25 metres squared per Standard Cattle Unit or less, and are only fed a prepared ration for the purpose of production.

“To be NFAS-certified Grain Fed Finished requires a minimum of 36 days on feed.”

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