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.
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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.
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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


Diagnostic laboratories play important role in livestock agriculture

Many of us have changed how we meet with people during the COVID-19 pandemic, and the veterinary community is no exception. Many summer conferences that veterinarians normally attend to keep up on the latest updates in their field are being cancelled or in some cases transitioned to online meetings. Recently, I was involved in a […] Read more

Problems arise in control of external parasites in beef cattle

External parasites, such as biting or sucking lice, create an obvious problem with cattle. All lice cause irritation and this irritation causes rubbing, licking, itching and hair loss. Itchy cattle will rub on fences, buildings, trees and other fixtures and can even damage these structures. It seems to be occurring more frequently despite the frequent […] Read more


Most lameness cases are assumed to be foot rot until proven otherwise, but treating all cases of lameness with antibiotics can be a mistake.  |  File photo

Lameness major reason for antibiotic use in feedlot cattle

Foot rot is one of the most common reasons a cow-calf producer will treat a cow with antibiotics. In 2019, Dr. Cheryl Waldner and co-workers at the Western College of Veterinary Medicine in Saskatoon published a paper on antimicrobial use in western Canadian cow-calf herds in the Canadian Veterinary Journal. Lameness was the top reason […] Read more

Social distancing common when managing calf health

Social distancing and self-quarantine are two new terms that have come into use with the COVID-19 pandemic. While these practices have become central to everyday life, the concepts are not new to those who deal with young calves. Although we can’t make sure that every animal stands two metres away from its immediate neighbour, we […] Read more

Greenfeed may be linked to milk fever

Cattle producers faced many challenges with forage and crop production last year. Many areas had poor hay crops and the weather didn’t co-operate at harvest for many grain crops. As a result, many beef cattle herds have relied heavily on baled cereal crops, such as oats or barley, as a major component of their winter […] Read more


Venereal disease often linked to open cows but tricky to diagnose

I recently had discussions with a cow-calf rancher and his veterinarian about a significant open cow problem. The herd had a group of cows with close to 40 percent of the group diagnosed as open at pregnancy checking. The veterinarian and the producer tried to diagnose the problem without much success. The problem did not […] Read more

Despite all we know, debate still exists as to whether BRD is actually a communicable disease. Do calves spread disease within the group from one animal to another? This seems like a fairly fundamental question, but the research has not been definitive.
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New study points finger at pen-mates infected with BRD

Bovine respiratory disease is one of the most important economic diseases in the beef cattle industry. It is almost overwhelming trying to keep up with the publications devoted to this subject. There are numerous studies on the microbial flora of the nasal passages of cattle, antimicrobial resistance surveys, vaccination trials, therapy studies and many others. […] Read more