In most cases, the most common way of introducing a new infection into a herd is through the purchase of animals. | Mike Sturk photo

Size of a cattle herd’s bubble can affect disease risk

I spoke to a veterinarian in Western Canada this week who was dealing with a significant disease outbreak in one of his client’s herds. The cow-calf producer had a number of cows abort and now at calving time, they had a significant number of calves dying with what appeared to be septicemia, which is a […] Read more

A recent trial could not show significant differences in bovine respiratory disease morbidity, mortality and average daily gain between calves that were vaccinated by injection and those that received vaccines intranasally. | File photo

New research studies intranasal vs. injectable vaccines

As we watch the first deliveries of the SARS-coronavirus 2 vaccines into the provinces, and the ongoing challenges with the distribution of vaccines, it is amazing to think about how quickly these vaccines came to market and how rapidly the scientists were able to accomplish the difficult Phase 3 clinical trials that are necessary to […] Read more

Despite recent research, we still don’t completely understand how the ureaplasma diversum bacteria causes embryonic loss and why it can be apparently present in clinically normal cattle. | File photo

Ureaplasma may be overlooked diagnosis for abortions

I was recently consulted about a disease investigation involving a group of heifers that was exposed to three bulls during a 90-day breeding season. The bull-cow ratio was more than adequate and the heifers were well vaccinated, receiving a modified live pre-breeding vaccine, as well as being vaccinated for vibriosis (Campylobacter) and leptospirosis. The herd […] Read more


The cattle industry has made huge strides in cattle handling during the last decade or more. | File photo

Cattle movement benefits from quality stockmanship

With the fall run in full swing, I’ve had the opportunity to be at a number of feedlots where they were processing fall calves. As I watched the processing crews, I was impressed at the stockmanship that I witnessed. There was no shouting, everybody was calm and quiet and animals were moved through the system […] Read more

Estimates vary, but up to 75 percent of the antimicrobial treatments and 50 percent of the mortality in feedlot cattle can be attributed to respiratory disease. | File photo

Technology improves identification of common viruses

Bovine respiratory disease is usually considered the most important economic and costly disease of beef cattle. Estimates vary, but up to 75 percent of the antimicrobial treatments and 50 percent of the mortality in feedlot cattle can be attributed to respiratory disease. Stressors such as weaning, transport and mixing play an important role in the […] Read more


Public health work deemed a success if nothing happens

I attended a webinar a few weeks ago on the subject of the epidemiology of the COVID-19 pandemic in Canada. The speaker made an interesting statement when discussing various public health interventions and about the difficulty in assessing the success of those interventions. She quoted a British systematic review that studied the return on investment […] Read more

Proper testing instrumental in controlling BVD virus

Bovine viral diarrhea virus is one of the most important viruses affecting the North American cattle industry. I have witnessed a variety of ways in which this virus can cause devastating economic losses in terms of infertility, abortions, stillbirths, and calf deaths. It is not surprising that it is an important and vital component of […] Read more

It would seem that herd immunity is not an imminent possibility for the Canadian population with regard to COVID-19, but I thought it would be interesting to explore this concept to see whether it applies to our cattle herds.
 | File photo

Herd immunity can be effective way to prevent disease

In the last few months you may have heard experts on the COVID-19 pandemic discuss the concept of herd immunity as a way of slowing or stopping the pandemic. It would seem that herd immunity is not an imminent possibility for the Canadian population with regard to COVID-19, but I thought it would be interesting […] Read more


Selecting for birthing ease not always clear-cut exercise

Most cow-calf operations finished calving season some time ago. In many herds, the bulls are out and next year’s calf crop is already being conceived. Calving and the early post-partum period is a critical time in the life of a calf. Problems at this time can significantly affect the calf’s mortality risk. A study published […] Read more

After years of being involved in various disease outbreaks in cow-calf herds, I estimate about 80 percent of them have nutritional deficiencies or toxicities as part of the root cause of the disease outbreak.
 | File photo

Copper deficiency in spring can lead to reproductive losses

It has been a relatively busy spring for our Disease Investigation Unit at the Western College of Veterinary Medicine in Saskatoon. The cases we’ve seen include scenarios of lead toxicity, abortions and several cases of unusual disease syndromes in young calves including neurological disease and blindness. After years of being involved in various disease outbreaks […] Read more