By Daniel Scruggs, DVM, Diplomate ACVP, Veterinarian, Veterinary Operations, Pfizer Animal Health
Multiple viral and bacterial agents contribute to bovine respiratory disease (BRD) in a bewildering array of combinations. Unfortunately, BRD treatment is going to result in some level of failure. Our job as veterinarians is to select treatment options that predictably provide the best treatment outcomes and to institute management changes that allow for antimicrobials to do their job and to give sick cattle a chance to get better.
Regardless of what antimicrobials you are using, if cattle do not have a clean and dry place to lie, are overcrowded in a pen with other sick cattle and/or do not have ample and easy access to palatable feed, then you are going to have poor treatment response no matter what product is used.1 BRD treatment success is a combination of antimicrobial effectiveness and length of time that treatment is administered.1 We are extremely lucky to have good choices available for antimicrobial treatments that are effective and minimize cattle handling.
Longer-duration antimicrobials allow us to spread cattle out and allow them to recover in less crowded conditions, or even to return to the home pen, knowing that producers will not have to run them through the chute every other day or even every third day. If your treatment plan does not capitalize on long-duration antimicrobials, then you are probably not realizing the full benefit.
Re-treatments and chronics are a frustrating consequence of initial treatment failures. Multiple studies have identified Mycoplasma bovis as one of the most consistent contributors to nonresponsive BRD.2 It is important to consider proven clinical effectiveness against M. bovis when producers and veterinarians are making arrival or first treatment antimicrobial selections.
Most veterinarians I encounter make antimicrobial selections based upon clinical outcome, meaning treatment success, morbidity and mortality rates. There is a lot of data available to aid in product selection, but perhaps most relevant information comes from your own treatment records. Remember, this complex is not one drug and one bug. The most accurate measurement is how each antimicrobial performs in the face of clinical disease (meaning the whole array and combination of microbes) and how it performs in your own management setting.
Looking at your own treatment records and collaborating with your veterinarian to select the best treatment option can help the health of your cattle and improve the bottom line of your operation.
Dr. Daniel Scruggs is a veterinarian with the U.S. Cattle Specialty Veterinary Operations team of Pfizer Animal Health. He has been with Pfizer Animal Health since 2003.
Dr. Scruggs is a graduate of Auburn University College of Veterinary Medicine. He practiced as a feedlot veterinarian before pursuing a residency in veterinary pathology at Texas A&M University. Dr. Scruggs is a Diplomate in the American College of Veterinary Pathologists and has been involved in diagnostic pathology and production medicine for more than 25 years, focusing on beef and swine production medicine and diagnostic pathology.