Once calves arrive at the feedlot, Bill's approach for controlling BRD is to carefully observe the cattle for coughing and then give the coughing cattle a couple of antibiotic injections. Bill suspected that the antibiotic didn't cure whatever was causing the coughing, but he felt maybe it gave sick cattle a boost in fighting off the infection.
“OK, let’s talk about diagnosis of sick cattle. You want to detect sick cattle as soon as possible. This will require you to spend some time each day carefully observing the cattle."
Early recognition of cattle with bovine respiratory disease: Look and listen for a soft repetitive cough, watery dull eyes, and a clear nasal discharge. Sometimes affected cattle rapidly lick their nostrils, yet they appear to have a dirty nose. The membranes around the eyes and nostrils may be reddened. Sick cattle will also decrease the amount they eat and not be as aggressive at the bunk. Observe any cattle hanging behind the bunk after the feed wagon goes by or at the bunk without feed on their nose. Sick cattle may have their heads hanging down, a gaunt appearance, and hollow paralumbar fossa.
“Next, we need to develop a specified treatment protocol for making decisions regarding which cattle to treat and what therapies to use. By having a treatment protocol, we can avoid incorrect treatments and achieve some consistency that enables us to evaluate trends in treatment success and failures. We need a protocol for each common problem or disease process. Keep in mind that you must look at the animal as a whole, observing clinical signs, days on feed, number of previous treatments, and body temperature. Here is an example of a treatment protocol for shipping fever based on body temperature."
Example of a Treatment Protocol for Shipping Fever Based on Body Temperature