How To Prevent Cattle Respiratory Disease?

Jun. 15, 2021

Bovine respiratory disease (BRD) is the most common cause of disease and death in Australian feedlot cattle. It is most common in the first four weeks after entry into the feedlot.

Bovine respiratory disease complex (BRDC) is the leading cause of severe respiratory infections in calves. The disease is multifactorial, with stress or decreased immunity leading to the emergence of multiple pathogens. We investigated the susceptibility of bovine airway epithelial cells (BAEC) to three major viral infections associated with BRDC: bovine respiratory syncytial virus (BRSV), bovine herpesvirus type 1 (BHV-1), and bovine parainfluenza virus type 3 (BPIV3) .

BRD is caused by a combination of stress and pathogenic factors, including viruses and bacteria. 

Carprofen injection is a non-narcotic, non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug with analgesic and antipyretic activity comparable to indomethacin in animal models. Laboratory studies and clinical field studies on unanaesthetized cattle have shown that carprofen is well tolerated in cattle after oral and subcutaneous administration.

Carprofen Injection

Carprofen Injection

Conditions under which BRD can occur

During the first four weeks of entry into the feedlot if the cattle are not properly prepared or "backgrounded". Unstressed cattle on pasture are rarely affected.

Under stressful conditions, including

Recently weaned

Sale yard




Mixing, pen competition, pen "add-ons" and action


Extreme weather and dust

Changes in feed and water.

Differential diagnosis

Early identification of affected cattle is critical and pens should be checked daily.

Clinical signs that would lead you to suspect bovine respiratory disease include

Depression and loss of interest in the surroundings

Lethargy and reluctance to move

Lengthening of the head

Drooping ears

Discharge from the eyes, nose and mouth


Rapid shallow breathing.

Diagnosing the causative factors associated with bovine respiratory disease on your property requires the help of your veterinarian. Knowing the specific causes will allow you to develop specific prevention strategies and treatment plans.


A comprehensive approach to the prevention of bovine respiratory disease should consider the following.

Reducing stress in cattle during the first four weeks of the feedlot

Improve cattle adaptation to the feedlot environment by selecting cattle directly from breeders and producers who raise weaned heifers and by backgrounding cattle prior to entering the feedlot

Vaccinate against respiratory diseases during backgrounding

Avoid sudden changes in feed and water intake

Minimize pen "add-ons" and movement.