Use of treatment records and lung lesion scoring to estimate the effect of respiratory disease on growth during early and late finishing periods in South African feedlot cattle

Author: Written by Thompson, P. N., A. Stone, and W. A. Schultheiss

Journal: Journal of Animal Science: 2006 84: 488-498

Abstract: Growth, morbidity, and slaughter data from 2,036 calves in 2 South African feedlots were used to estimate the effect of bovine respiratory disease (BRD) and of lung lesion type and extenton growth during the early (processing to d 35) and late (d 35 to slaughter) finishing periods. Calves were weighed at processing (d 5 after arrival), on d 35, and at slaughter after a mean of 137 d on feed. All calves were monitored twice daily and were treated for BRD if rectal temperature was >40°C or if other specific signs of BRD were present. After slaughter, the occurrence and extent of parenchymal bronchopneumonic lesions and pleural adhesions were recorded. Subclinical BRD (never treated but with lung lesions at slaughter) occurred in 29.7% and clinical BRD in 22.6% of calves. Lung lesions were present in 43% of calves at slaughter; 8.6% had parenchymal lesions and 38.8% had pleural adhesions. Using a combined case definition (treated for BRD and/or lung lesions present at slaughter), the incidence of BRD was 52.5%. During the early finishing period, clinical BRD reduced ADG by 216 g (P < 0.001), subclinical BRD reduced ADG by 91 g (P < 0.001), and the combined effect of BRD was a 143 g reduction in ADG (P < 0.001). After d 35, animals treated for BRD tended to grow faster than those with subclinical BRD (P = 0.11), indicating that treatment was generally successful in reducing economic losses. The extent of bronchopneumonic lesions at slaughter was not associated with reduced growth during the early finishing period (P= 0.27), but extensive lesions reduced ADG by 88 g during the late period (P = 0.02). In contrast, the extent of pleural adhesions wasnot associated with reduced growth rate during the late finishingperiod (P = 0.37) but was strongly associated with reduced ADGbefore d 35; there was a 101 g reduction (P < 0.001) and a 220 g reduction (P = 0.01) for adhesions involving 50% of the pleural surfaces, respectively. Thus, although the presence of bronchopneumonic lesions and pleural adhesions at slaughter were both associated with reductions in overall ADG, they were indicative of production losses having occurred at different times during the finishing period. The overall effect of BRD was a 24 g reduction in ADG (P = 0.02) and a 5.1 d increase in days on feed (P< 0.001). The hidden cost of reduced growth rate due to BRD amounted to $3.41 per calf with clinical or subclinical BRD, or $1.79 per animal entering the feedlot