Progress in Testing Technologies for BVD-PI Calves

by Mario Villarino


Mario Villarino DVM, Ph.D.
Hopkins County Extension Agent for Ag and NR
1200B Houston Street
Sulphur Springs, Texas 75482

Today, our communication system provide us information even we do not necessarily make a direct effort to get it. As I was talking about the impact of this to the staff at the Hopkins County extension office, we came to the conclusion that this trend not only will continue but will become the norm in how we interpret our world and how we become aware of the different happenings in it. I personally do not have a problem learning of important events in the world that I live on but I certainly become “information overloaded” quickly and finding the information that is not necessarily “billboard” quality becomes complicated.. As I was reviewing my resources of information I found this piece published recently about a cattle disease that has got some attention in the beef industry and more important to me has made significant progress in testing technologies and reduced implementation cost. The source is the Texas Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory website and original post author and source is indicated.    

Prevent the creation of BVD-PI calves (April 28, 2016 by kbradley  Posted from High Plains Journal: Lubbock). Contrary to popular opinion, BVD does not stand for bad veterinarian disease. It stands for bovine viral diarrhea, and it can be very costly for cow-calf producers and feedlot operators. Speaking at the BVD Forum in Kansas City, Missouri, April 7, Dan Grooms, a professor in the College of Veterinary Science at Michigan State University, said BVD can cost producers $14 to $25 in decreased return per beef cow, and feedlot owners can lose $41 to $93 per animal exposed to BVD. The morbidity rate for feedlot calves exposed to persistently infected animals is almost double the rate for non-PI exposed calves. Derrell Peel, a professor at Oklahoma State University Department of Agricultural Economics, said the economic impact of BVD is $20 to $30 per beef cow, $45 to $55 per dairy cow and $20 to $45 per stocker/feedlot animal. The impact for the industry as whole is $1.54 to $2.59 billion. BVD is a viral infection of cattle that can mutate and change rapidly and have adverse consequences. Clinical outcomes related to BVD include abortions, early embryonic death and congenital defects. The disease can lead to persistently infected animals, although many of these die at a young age due to secondary infections. Approximately 93 percent of calves that test positive for BVD do not have a PI dam but a PI cow will always give birth to a PI calf. “PIs are lifetime shedders of BVD,” Grooms said. A PI animal can look normal but is generally a poor performer. Peel said a lot of the loss may not even be noticed by producers because PI calves that survive past weaning become someone else’s problem. The challenges for effective BVD control include failure to recognize the disease, failure to recognize the costs associated with the disease, little incentive to identify and remove PI animals from the herd, the cost of testing for the disease, the nature of the disease and the impact of BVD on other diseases. “You can’t see what you are not looking for,” Peel said. Dr. Dan Givens, a veterinarian at Kansas State University’s College of Veterinary Science, said most BVD-PI animals occur in the cow-calf segment of the industry. There is no good way to test a calf for BVD until it is on the ground. At this point the producer is only six months away from the selling the animal and then it is halfway through the production process. Givens wondered if it reasonable to expect one segment of the industry to shoulder all of the costs for testing and control of this disease.“ BVD is one of the few diseases that is easy to blame on someone else,” Givens said. It is estimated that 10 percent of herds in this country will have a PI-infected animal. However, a recent survey of producers with over 200 cows said that while they had knowledge of the disease, they were not testing for it. Givens said the absence of evidence is not the evidence of absence. There are over 150 different BVD vaccine combinations including modified live and killed vaccines but vaccines are a tool and not a silver bullet. A producer can vaccinate a PI animal all he wants but it will still be a PI, according to Givens. Givens said producers should undertake pre-breeding tests before bulls are turned in with the cows. They should test calves on the ground, bulls and all cattle without calves. Pl-positive cows and calves should be removed from the herd and be sold for slaughter. “All of the tests can be done reliably if done correctly,” Givens said. Richard Kerr, laboratory manager at Daisy Farms in Texas, said his associates do intensive testing of all animals on the dairy. They found three BVD positive animals in 2014 but none since. Brian Keith, a stocker and cow-calf operator from Allen, Kansas, said he tests every calf that comes off the truck. Within 12 to 24 hours of arrival he knows which calves are “hot.” Keith manages 10,000 acres of summer grass and all cows and bulls are PI tested. Darrell Busby, manager of the Tri-County Steer Carcass Futurity in Iowa, collects ear notches for samples. He said his associates found three positives from three different animals and all three calves died. Busby said they have had only one positive animal they know of that made it to 1,000 pounds. The key to controlling BVD is to prevent the creation of PI calves, according to Bob Larson, chair of Food Animal Production Medicine at K-State’s College of Veterinary Medicine. This means improving head immunity, improving immunity of dams and keeping pregnant cows away from at risk cattle. As little as one hour with a PI animal will transmit the virus to susceptible cattle.

Homeowners Maintenance of Aerobic Treatment Units scheduled for May 16, 2016

In a collaborative effort with the Hopkins County Environmental Office a basic training in proper evaluation of aerobics system structures, equipment and operation of already installed system in homes will be reviewed. Dr. Anish Jantrania (Texas A&M University-Temple) will provide the training starting from 8:30 AM until 3:30 PM. The registration fee, lunch and teaching materials are $100 per participant. Interested attendees must register by May 11, 2016. A minimum of 10 participants must be attending for the class to make. For registration or information please contact the Hopkins County Extension Office at 903-885-3443.

For more information in this or any other agricultural topic please contact the Hopkins County Extension Office at 903-885-3443 or email me at [email protected].

Author: Staff Reporter

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