The Udder Side


With fall coming, we normally look at the costliest side of raising cattle. In the veterinary world, we call it Bovine Respiratory Disease Complex. Which it really is, and I believe most of you reading this article will agree.

The reason it is considered a complex is there are many agents causing it. From bacteria to viruses to fungal to heart conditions. 

Now granted we do not normally see the fungal or heart conditions in cattle. Our main causes are from viruses and bacteria. Occasionally I will see one from parasitism, but with our dewormers today, normally not.

I was told by an old-time vet and researcher that in baby calves if you can keep the bacteria out of them, they do not get sick. And with older calves, if you can keep the viruses out of them, they do not get sick. I have most found this true in my short 34.5 years of practice. This means we must keep E. coli out of the babies and the viruses out of the rest of our calves.

And how do we do this is by properly vaccinating them. Now there are just a couple of modified live vaccines that only require one dose for the viruses, but most of them require two doses anywhere from two weeks to one month apart. 

Generally speaking, when we just give one dose of a two-dose series, we will only get 45 days of true immunity. This is not six months or one year like we wish. We all need to read the label and follow the label directions. And it does mean handling the calves twice, but if it saves one calf, it’s worth it, which would be around $500 savings.

We also have one disease we are right in the middle of the season for, which is mycoplasma pneumonia. 

This disease will hit even highly vaccinated animals if given the chance. Luckily, we do have a vaccine for it. Now 90 percent of the time, a regular cow/calf guy will not see this disease, but stockers and feedlots will, big time. I at least want to mention it.

Now for the parasitism pneumonia, I see that where people have only been using a generic pour-on for several years. 

Normally we need to come in and use an old fashion drench white dewormer. This gives the worms something else to see and they haven’t developed a resistance to. I rotate and normally use a white dewormer from about mid-November until February. This is because of grubs. Grub worms will be migrating by the esophagus and spinal cord sometime during this time. The white dewormers will not kill them and thus not causing a deadly choke or spinal paralysis. Both conditions normally kill cattle. But, at the same time, I am preventing lungworms and their migration through the lungs. I will also see cattle slick off better due to no resistance and a better worm kill.

Dr. Tim E. O’Neill, DVM, owns Country Veterinary Service in Farmington, Ark. To contact Tim go to and click on ‘Contact Us.’


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