May 10, 2011

From Beef Today:

As producers begin to tally and evaluate this season’s calf crop, they should keep reproductive health top of mind, says John Rodgers, DVM, Veterinary Operations, Pfizer Animal Health.

“Reproduction is a major driver of profitability in cow/calf production,” Dr. Rodgers says. “Therefore, it is important to maintain reproductive health to optimize productivity. Respiratory diseases are far and away the most talked about in cattle production, but reproductive diseases can be the difference in producing a calf or not, and that’s what will really impact the bottom line at the end of the year.”

Reproductive diseases also can often be difficult to diagnose and many producers may not realize their herds have been affected. While they can easily see if cows abort late term or simply do not settle at all, producers may not notice if cows abort early in the pregnancy.

“Signs of reproductive disease can vary from relatively mild cases of poor reproductive performance to severe abortion storms,” Dr. Rodgers says. “In some cases, producers may think that cows just aren’t settling when, in fact, diseases like infectious bovine rhinotracheitis (IBR), vibriosis or leptospirosis may be to blame.”

A 2002 study showed, when all reproductive diseases and conditions are factored in, infertility, abortions or stillbirths, dystocia, retained placentas, and metritis or pyometra cost beef producers up to $502 million.1 What’s more, reproductive diseases can cost more than just a calf at the end of calving season — they can cut efficiencies and profits from unprotected operations. In fact, losses to reproductive disease cost U.S. beef cow/calf producers $13.10 to $14.90 per cow annually.

With so much at stake, Dr. Rodgers says producers should talk with their veterinarians when reviewing their vaccination programs. 

“Talking with a veterinarian is always an important step when revising or developing a new vaccination program,” Dr. Rodgers says. “Veterinarians can provide the technical expertise needed to design reproductive vaccination programs specific to a producer’s particular situation.”

In addition to keeping an eye on nutrition, bull fertility and other management factors, producers also should look for vaccines that help protect against pathogens that can cause poor reproductive performance, including infectious bovine rhinotracheitis (IBR) virus, bovine viral diarrhea (BVD) Types 1 and 2 viruses, Campylobacter fetus (vibrio) and Lepto hardjo-bovis, Dr. Rodgers says.