January 28, 2019

2019 Southeast ARPAS Chapter Symposium Recap

Recap - ARPAS Symposium 

By: Dr. Emily Taylor

The 2019 Southeast ARPAS Chapter Symposium: Lifetime Costs of Mismanaging Calves Pre-weaning, started off with Dr. David Smith from Mississippi State University discussing the cause of pre-weaning morbidity and mortality. Dr. Smith explained that beef calves are susceptible to a variety of traumatic, infectious, parasitic, nutritional and metabolic diseases prior to being weaned. He discussed the vulnerability of calves at specific ages with the potential causes of disease and death. Specifically mentioning problems with calves acquiring maternal immunity from colostrum. Because most beef herds carry the pathogens associated with these infectious diseases, it is of specific importance to science to study systems that favor disease prevention.

Dr. John Riley continued the discussion of mismanagement and the diseases associated. He specifically mentioned the impacts of bovine viral diarrhea and the persistently infected calves and the impacts felt across the cattle industry. Dr. Riley presented a meta-analysis along with partial budgeting procedures used to determine the economic costs and benefits of herd and calf health management. Dr. Riley found that 96% of cow-calf operations are uninfected from bovine viral diarrhea and ultimately had a net loss in the first two years from implementation of an enhanced health program. However, those herds who were infected had a gain in year two. Gains were also seen down-stream for commercial stocker operations without the added costs seen for the cow-calf operations. These results can help provide the industry with benchmarks for incentives to induce health programs, targeted at the cow-calf operations. 

To wrap up this years 2019 ARPAS Symposium, Dr. Daniel Thomson presented on the carry-over effects of health management through the production chain. As previously presented by Drs Smith and Riley, health management is key not only to the pre-weaned calves survival, but also the longevity of the animal and costs associated. Dr. Thomson continues this discussion, targeting production systems past the cow-calf operations. Dr. Thomson explained that infections may happen at any segment of the industry, but may not present itself until the animal is stressed during transfer to a subsequent production segment. These animals then become more susceptible to disease while being commingled with animals from multiple operations who may or may not come from a system that favors disease prevention. Dr. Thomson explains the importance of diagnostic monitoring, biosecurity and proper vaccination programs to decrease disease exposure. Ultimately, the industry needs to prepare cattle for market transfer by decreasing disease exposure and stress in cattle.