September 21, 2015

(Dan) Hey folks, welcome to DocTalk. Glad that you joined us today. We’re gonna have a great show. Dr. Brad White from the Department of Clinical Sciences here at the College of Veterinary Medicine at Kansas State University is joining us. We’re gonna talk about diagnosing and finding cattle that are sick with Bovine Respiratory Disease. Thanks for joining us and stay tuned after this message.

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(Dan) Brad welcome to the show. (Brad) Thanks Dan. (Dan) Folks this is Dr. Brad White and he is joining us today. We’re tickled to death to have him here. He’s somebody that, not just has a presence here in the state of Kansas, but has a presence nationally and internationally when it comes to Bovine Respiratory Disease and some of the things that we see in the feedlots. And he’s an Associate Professor in the Department of Clinical Sciences and man, you do a lot of research don’t ya? (Brad) Do quite a bit of research. A lot with respiratory disease. (Dan) Well, it’s a lot of good work. And we’re very thankful you’d take time to spend time with us today here on the show. (Brad) Thank you. (Dan) So, talk a little bit about some of the background of Bovine Respiratory Disease and some of the things that you see or things that we’re dealing with when it comes to Bovine Respiratory Disease in the industry. (Brad) That’s a good question. So, Bovine Respiratory Disease is a big problem in the industry especially after we wean calves. And it’s one of the diseases that we have a lot of trouble with because just like people get pneumonia, when cattle get Bovine Respiratory Disease they can have problems breathing but it’s hard to diagnose. Because their instinct is to hide that illness because they’re a herd animal. So, they don’t want to be picked out from the herd but would rather hide the symptoms. So it’s hard to diagnose. (Dan) Kind of that predatory, prey defense mechanism. Don’t show your weakness and then you aren’t the one that’s preyed upon. (Brad) Exactly, exactly. They don’t want to get separated from the herd. So, some of the signs that we see. They don’t eat as much so they may not go to feed as often. They may act depressed. But all of those are subjective signs. So, when we try to find those calves, it’s very hard to pick them out when we’re managing them as a group. (Dan) OK. So, when we do see some of the clinical signs that you mentioned, going off feed, but what are some other clinical signs of calves suffering from respiratory disease? (Brad) So we see going off feed, they may be depressed. They may be separated or isolated from the group. So, back to they want to be a part of that herd, but they can’t maintain because they’re ill. They may spend a little more time off by themselves and laying down. So not doing the normal activities that calves do. Really we have to understand what normal calves look like. And they have variations in their behavior just like we do, they have variations in how they respond to illness. (Dan) So, when we start to think about some of the opportunities out there, obviously if they’re hiding their symptoms, there must be some opportunity there to improve upon finding them. (Brad) One of the real challenges is if we don’t diagnose them accurately, then we run the risk of, if we don’t find a sick calf and he’s sick, we can’t apply a treatment effectively. So, we can’t make him better. And the longer he’s sick before we treat him, the more trouble we have with those calves. They don’t respond as well to treatment. On the flip side of the coin, if there are calves that are out there that are healthy and we think they’re sick, then we may be inadvertently treating them which takes time and also some other resources to go ahead and treat them. So finding those sick calves accurately is really important. Right now, and we’ve actually done some research looking at how accurate we are, it’s one of the things that was humbling to me as we compared, what does a calf look like and then we look at their lungs. Very different story sometimes, because they don’t always tell us the full story by their behavior and what we see. Because we see such a short period of time. Even in our research project where we have time to spend a few minutes looking at each calf, you still aren’t able to pick up what they’re doing 24 hours a day. So, the struggle is how do we monitor and really find them more accurately? (Dan) Cool. We’re gonna take a break. When we come back, there will be more with Dr. Brad White on Bovine Respiratory Disease. Thanks for watching.

(Dan) Folks, welcome back to DocTalk. I’m Dr. Dan Thomson. I’m here with Dr. Brad White, who is a friend and colleague here at Kansas State University’s College of Veterinary Medicine, talking about Bovine Respiratory Disease diagnosis in cattle. And as we left you were kind of discussing that we’re picking out the wrong animals. (Brad) That is one of the hardest jobs out there. So even when we try to teach students, that’s one of the hardest things to teach and even producers that have been watching cattle, day after day throughout their careers, it’s one of the most difficult things to find a sick animal. Because they don’t want to be found. They don’t know that we’re trying to help them. So when we’ve looked at studies related to accuracy, we see that even when a person is trying to find those sick calves, there’s a percentage of the time that we miss. That we can’t find them early in the process, or we call ’em sick and they’re not truly sick. So, we’re looking at a way to try to improve that, make it a little bit better. (Dan) There’s a lot of times we’re pulling ugly, not sick. (Brad) Yea, that’s exactly right. They may be ugly, they may just be off feed. They may have some other condition. (Dan) Hair coat, something that you just…something’s not right with that animal but it’s not BRD. (Brad) Exactly right. Exactly right, but when we only have a snap shot in time to look at them. So the average pen rider he’s riding enough pens. He only has four seconds per calf, each evaluation period. So in that four second period, it’s very, very difficult to see what has that calf been doing? (Dan) And the amount of animals that they look at. (Brad) Yep. (Dan) If you’re looking at 4,000…if you try to look at 4,000 anything in a day, let alone every four seconds. (Brad) Exactly right. So, it’s a very, very difficult job. (Dan) Yea. So, y’all have done some work and looked at some different opportunities, rectal temp and blood samples and try to fine tune, to determine which animal is sick and when they are sick. (Brad) Exactly. One of the common uses is we’ll see, we’ll take a rectal temperature. So, we’ll find a calf in the pen, we think he might be sick, we take him to the chute, we take his rectal temperature and normal temperature on a calf is about 100.5, but on warm days, it will be much higher than that. (Dan) Right. (Brad) And it can be lower on cooler days. But a lot of times that 100.5, we may say there’s a cutoff at which point he’s sick and then we decide to treat him. When we go back and look at some of the large data sets we have access to through feed yards that it’s not very predictive if they’re 100.3 or 100.4 or even up to 100.5 of what the case outcome’s gonna be. Which is what we care about. We want to know, should I treat this calf or not? As you get to really high temperatures, then we have a better idea that they’re sick, but our case outcomes aren’t as good. So, we want to find ’em earlier in that process. So rectal temp is not gonna solve just our diagnosis problem, plus we only apply it to the calves we pull out of the pen. (Dan) And the environmental change and its effect on rectal temp. We’ve see it in dairy cows, seen it in beef calves. It can be all over the board. (Brad) Absolutely. It’s up and down and we’ve done some studies in the summertime where we see rectal temp, it just varies a lot throughout the day and really depending on the night before. How much cooling time did we have? (Dan) Right. (Brad) What was the low temperature? (Dan) And then as far as blood samples or following those calves out, what have you all learned or observed? (Brad) We’ve tried to test for several things. So, we’ve looked from a research standpoint. Is there something that would really augment what we currently do? How do we get better and what samples could we take? And for the most part, most of those blood samples have not been very predictive of the true health status of the calf, which is disappointing, but not surprising because we say BRD, and unlike a disease with a single pathogen, it’s a syndrome. So, it’s not surprising that sometimes their blood values look like this, or like this. So the simple answer is we don’t have a silver bullet, which would help us diagnose BRD. One of the things that we found in those trials, that was very interesting, were some of the behavioral changes among those calves as it related to BRD. (Dan) Cool. Well let’s pick up the behavior after these messages. You’re watching DocTalk. Thanks for joining us.

(Dan) Folks, welcome back to DocTalk. Dr. Dan Thomson here with Dr. Brad White. And we’re talking about Bovine Respiratory Disease and Brad, you kind of walked us through getting through the clinical signs, inability to find sick cattle, some of the things, tools that we’ve used to augment what we’re already doing whether it’s taking a rectal temp or looking at some blood samples. And really we’re not improving our ability to surveil these cattle or find them or even get a better treatment. So, you’ve been looking now at some of the things with behavior correct? (Brad) Absolutely, so one of the things that we found is that cattle behavior, just like us when we’re sick, we’ll show that behavior in different ways. So, we’ll behave different than when we’re feeling normal. So, as one of the early things that we did, we looked at activity. So, cattle that are sick, as you would expect, they’re less active. So, they’ll walk around less, they’ll spend more time lying down which was interesting for us as we discovered that you could really pick out which cattle were sick and which cattle weren’t. It also changes their eating and drinking behavior which is what we’re looking for when we visually observe cattle to try to find illness. The difference is when we visually observe cattle, we’ve got a snap shot. We go out, we look, this is the point in time. I’m here in the pen looking at the cattle. When we monitor behavior with a remote system as we’ve been doing, we monitor it 24 hours a day, seven days a week. So now instead of a snap shot, we’ve got the movie. So we can tell exactly what they’re doing. And we don’t have them modifying their behavior with the presence of a person in the pen. (Dan) You’re getting past the sound bite. You’re getting the whole story. (Brad) Exactly right, exactly right. We get the whole story, so we get a lot of data. And as we sift through we start to uncover some things that we didn’t know before and they change a little bit of our paradigm assumptions. For example, sick calves and as we start out talking our typical, we say look for the calf that’s kind of off by himself. That’s absolutely true. We see that later in the disease process. Early in the disease process what we see is they spend more time in a group. The problem is without remote monitoring, we never see that because it’s very hard to say, “Go look for the calf that’s spending more time with other calves.” And unless you’re watching the movie, you don’t get to see that. So, that’s one of the things we’ve uncovered that allows us to really change how we can find those sick calves. There’s probably a ton of things that you could use this technology for, whether it’s when a cow’s gonna calve, or… (Brad) Absolutely. (Dan) I was just sitting here thinking of opportunities, it’s gotta be endless. (Brad) So when they’re gonna calve. Respiratory disease is where we start because it’s the biggest issue that we face in weaned beef calves. But there are lots of other syndromes even for feedlot cattle, or cow/calf or some of the other opportunities there. (Dan) So just for the people out there that are maybe not familiar with this technology, it’s what is the name, it’s REDI. (Brad) So, we’re using Remote Early Disease Identification is the system. And so through our company Precision Animal Solutions, we’re coming out with that Remote Early Disease Identification or REDI for short is what we’re doing. (Dan) Is it available on the market today? Is it something…? (Brad) We’re hoping to come to market in the next few months, so it will be out soon. (Dan) Awesome. I think as we head out into the fall, and different seasons of receiving calves, this is gonna be really important to be able to touch on the behaviors. We’re gonna take a break. When we come back, we’ll do a wrap up with you and talk a little bit about REDI and how it fits. But folks, Dr. Brad White, we’re lucky to have him on the show. Thank you for watching DocTalk. More after these messages.

(Dan) Hey folks. welcome back to DocTalk. Dr. Dan Thomson here with Dr. Brad White, who’s an Associate Professor in the Department of Clinical Sciences at the College of Veterinary Medicine at Kansas State University. We’re talking about some great technology that he’s been a part of developing and bringing out is the REDI system and the Remote Early Disease Identification System. And let’s talk a little bit about…you’ve done some comparison already. (Brad) Yep. (Dan) And it’s pretty cool. (Brad) So, we’ve seen some really interesting things when we compare it to a person. So we’ve taken cattle and monitored them with both a person and system. What we see is the system as you might expect because it’s monitoring behavior 24 hours a day, seven days a week, it’s finding those calves earlier. So, we see that we’ll find ’em on average 18 hours earlier, but a lot of times we’re three, four, five days before the person does, because those behavior changes are subtle. Just like we talked about spending more time in the group, we pick up on that. So, what we expect, if we can find those calves early – early treatment, better case outcomes. (Dan) Yep. (Brad) So we’ve seen that we can accurately find those calves and we get better case outcomes. So in a recent trial that we did, we compared there were a few pens, we compared 600 head monitored with the REDI system, with 600 head monitored with a person. (Dan) Pen rider. (Brad) At the end of the study we had ten calves that ended up being treated and died in the REDI pen and 19 calves that ended up dying in the person pen. So we had the exact same number of pulls or sick cattle, but the death loss was different or case outcomes were different. We found them at a different time, on average about a week earlier. (Dan) And when we have some of the things associated with antibiotic resistance and decreased antibiotic usage, you’ve also done some pretty unique work on replacing metaphylaxis, or mass treatment on arrival. (Brad) Yea, so when we look at one of the common tools, if you were receiving a group of calves that were at high risk for Bovine Respiratory Disease, you would likely treat them with an antimicrobial, give every one of them an antimicrobial or metaphylaxis at arrival because we don’t know which ones are sick and which ones aren’t. And that has been a technology that has been shown very effectively to work very well at reducing the number of sick calves. (Dan) Right. (Brad) Cut ’em by half. So what we thought was, we thought we’ll try against the conventional standard metaphylaxis compared to REDI and no metaphylaxis. What we found was we ended with about the same number of pulls, no difference in the number sick calves, no difference in the number dead calves, but we used one less dose of antibiotics. So, we were able to save that initial dose because of our accurate diagnosis. Made a difference against good case outcome, finding them earlier. (Dan) Decrease not only on the problems that we have societally with antibiotic use and antibiotic resistance, but the cost of production decrease in those cows $20 bucks a head. (Brad) And it changes our…so we don’t replace a pen rider, but it’s a good system to augment and make the best pen riders better. It gives them something else to go on, another tool in their tool box that they can rely on to help do their job even better as they go through. Because it’s one of the toughest jobs in the field, is finding those sick calves. (Dan) Yep. And when the snow’s blowing down the back of your neck and you’re out there working…I really appreciate you being on the show. Great technology. Keep up the great work. And we’ll want to have you back. (Brad) Thanks Dan. Appreciate it. (Dan) And thank you for watching Doc Talk. Remember always work with your local veterinarian. And if you want to know more about what Dr. White and I do here at Kansas State, you can find us on the web at Thanks for watching DocTalk today. I’m Dr. Dan Thomson, and I’ll see you down the road.

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