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Bovine respiratory disease (BRD), also known as "shipping fever," is the most common - and costly - disease of feedlot cattle. Leading university animal scientists to nominate their most recent, cutting-edge BRD research below.
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BRD And Carcass Quality
The negative effects of BRD extend all the way to carcass quality, according to Oklahoma State University researchers. They found the long-term effects of BRD can cost producers up to $40/head of carcass value 200 days post-backgrounding.
A total of 406 crossbred, sale barn heifers were backgrounded and followed through finishing and harvest. Heifers were categorized by severity of the BRD complex: 0 treatments: "healthy;" one treatment: "mild case;" greater than one treatment: "severe case."
Heifers that had a more severe case of BRD during the backgrounding period had lower ADG - 2.32 lbs., 2.17 lbs. and 1.83 lbs. for healthy, mild and severe cases, respectively.
However, once heifers entered the finishing period, animals with mild or severe cases of BRD during backgrounding actually showed some compensatory gain (2.83 lbs., 2.85 lbs. and 2.90 lbs., respectively, for healthy, mild and severe cases).
While BRD during the background period might not have long-term effects on feeding performance, there were significant differences in carcass traits and overall carcass value, researchers say.
Final live weights and hot carcass weights of heifers tended to be slightly lower due to increased BRD severity.
The biggest long-term effect from BRD during backgrounding was impact on marbling score. This sizeable decrease in marbling score caused a 25% reduction in percent Choice carcasses (66%, 59% and 41%, respectively, for healthy, mild and severe cases of BRD).
This reduction can cost producers money when marketing cattle on a grid. Comparing healthy calves to calves that had a severe BRD case during the backgrounding period on a basic grid, only about a $3/cwt. difference of carcass value was shown.
However, calculating in lower hot carcass weights and medical costs, the margins show a larger spread. When comparing healthy heifers to calves that had a mild case of BRD or to heifers that had a severe case of BRD, net return carcass values were $11.48/head and $37.34/head lower. This is an impact that occurred approximately 200 days post-backgrounding.
The OSU researchers suggest the only real solution to BRD is prevention, such as value-added cattle that have been preconditioned.
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