The Importance of preventing bovine respiratory disease

A beef industry review


  • N. C. Speer Department of Agriculture, Western Kentucky University, One Big Red Way, Bowling Green, KY 42101
  • C. Young Kentucky Department of Agriculture, c / o WKU Department of Agriculture, One Big Red Way, Bowling Green, KY 42101
  • D. Roeber Department of Animal Sciences, Colorado State University, Fort Collins, CO 80523



beef cattle, disease prevention, economics, food industry, respiratory diseases, reviews, vaccination, drug usage guidelines, guidelines


Segmentation within the beef industry creates differing perspectives of the true worth of cattle. This is especially apparent for cattle that have been managed through some type of value-added health program. Understanding each segment?s role in value integration becomes increasingly important as vertical cooperation increases within the industry. Sickness, usually manifested as Bovine Respiratory Disease (BRD), in newly received calves illustrates the importance of preweaning health management to cattle buyers because it is directly related to economic risk. Morbidity rates can have a dramatic economic impact because of losses associated with mortality realizers, reduced performance and carcass value reduction. Health programs are designed to minimize morbidity risk of feeder cattle, and to provide some method of documenting the preventive management program conducted prior to sale. A variety of programs exist to compliment varying cow/calf management schemes. Preconditioning programs represent the most comprehensive tool to prevent morbidity upon arrival. Preconditioning programs address both sides of the morbidity equation: they are designed to reduce the incidence of BRD by increasing resistance, while simultaneously reducing stress prior to and after shipment. However, the cattle industry has been slow to adopt preconditioning programs. This has occurred primarily as a result of ranchers' efforts to reduce input costs, along with increasing consolidation within the feeding industry Nonetheless, source-verified, preconditioned calves generally are at reduced risk of morbidity, thereby potentially reducing feedyard operating costs. The cost of disease prevention programs and their effect on morbidity must be appropriately evaluated, however, within the given economic environment. Calf producers and practitioners are encouraged to understand the various factors that cause variability in feeder cattle prices in order to reduce exposure to excessive market risk, and maximize net return of the cattle that they produce.




How to Cite

Speer, N. C., Young, C., & Roeber, D. (2001). The Importance of preventing bovine respiratory disease: A beef industry review. The Bovine Practitioner, 35(2), 189–196.