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Interpretive Summary: Predicting bovine respiratory disease outcome in feedlot cattle using latent class analysis

By Anne Zinn

A study recently published in the Journal of Animal Science aimed to identify bovine respiratory disease (BRD) outcome groups using BRD indicators collected during the feeding phase and at slaughter through latent class analysis and to determine the importance of BRD indicators to predict disease outcomes. BRD is the most significant disease affecting feedlot cattle; the disease remains the major cause of illness and mortality in feedlots despite advances in treatment and vaccination protocols and increasing knowledge of management factors. There are a variety of indicators of BRD often used in feedlots, and they vary in their ability to predict an animal’s BRD outcome. Currently, no studies have been published determining how a combination of BRD indicators may define the number of BRD disease outcome groups.

Results of the present study confirm that visual signs are a key indicator in identifying animals impacted by BRD provided the pen riders are sufficiently trained to identify the signs early. It is suggested that emphasis should be placed on training of new pen riders for accurate visual identification and on efforts to retain experienced pen riders. Results confirmed that early initial treatment for BRD can potentially reduce the progression of infection and limit severity, but animals that require more than 1 treatment lead to more severe infection and permanent damage. Results demonstrated the importance of health feedback information and better technologies to detect lung lesions on live animals, as well as the importance of adequate backgrounding procedures to reduce BRD severity in feedlots. Overall, using this information to predict an animal’s BRD outcome would greatly enhance treatment efficacy and aid in better management of animals at risk of suffering from severe BRD.

The full paper can be found on the Journal of Animal Science website.