Beef Cattle: Health

This section about livestock health will concentrate on the diseases that are most economically significant, the control of those diseases, knowledge about cattle health and management practices, potential problems, and to intelligently participate in developing a health and management plan.

For help with questions about health, well-being, or veterinarian advice.

Information and Resources

Link Pointer Beef Quality Assurance
Injectable products should always be measured accurately and administered according to the manufacturer’s label recommendations. Beef Quality Assurance is a national program that raises consumer confidence through offering proper management techniques and a commitment to quality within every segment of the beef industry. For more information, including videos, manuals and training opportunities visit your county Extension office. Link Pointer BQA Program

Link Pointer Costs of Horn Fly Control for Cow-Calf Producers in Tennessee and Texas
Horn flies are a common livestock pest. They feed 20-40 times per day, resulting in blood loss, pathogen introduction, production inefficiencies, and hide damage, which could reduce profitability in livestock production. Horn fly management strategies can reduce the severity of these problems. Several studies have found greater weight gains in cattle with fewer flies compared with cattle with heavy infestations. This information is important because horn fly management costs are likely to differ based on location, demographics, perceptions, and traditional practices. Additionally, producers and researchers may be interested in the factors affecting producer decision making and horn fly management expenditures.

Link Pointer Tennessee and Texas Cow-Calf Producers’ Perception of Livestock Pests
Pests of livestock can cause direct damage to animals by being a nuisance or directly blood feeding on animals. Indirectly, these pests can transmit pathogens, and some pests can cause peripheral damage via misuse of management decisions or quarantines. The objective of this study was to identify the perceived impact of different livestock pests, specifically arthropods, on cattle operations. We investigated this question to document the perceptions of cow-calf producers in two different regions of the United States (Tennessee and Texas).

Link Pointer Cattle Vaccination Decision Guide
A successful herd health program includes, but is not limited to, proper herd immunization (vaccination) to prevent and/or control a variety of infectious diseases. However, selecting the proper vaccines for your herd can be a challenging task because of the multiple vaccines that are available. Therefore, consider the following things when developing a vaccination program for your herd.

Link Pointer Bovine Viral Diarrhea Virus
Bovine viral diarrhea virus (BVDV) is a potentially severe problem for cow-calf herds and has been implicated as a cause of infertility, abortions, diarrhea, shipping fever (bovine respiratory disease) and immunosuppression, which weakens the immune system and leads to other disease issues. BVDV infections are classified into three clinical syndromes: acute (transient) infections, fetal infections and persistent infections.

Link Pointer Changes Concerning Over the Counter Medications
On January 1, 2017, changes were enacted concerning medically important over the counter (OTC) feed additive antibiotics to bring them under the oversight of veterinarians (currently known as VFD). As this change was enacted, future guidance documents were being prepared for medically important OTC injection antibiotics. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has now published a report that starting June 11, 2023, medically important OTC injection antibiotics will become prescription items as well. With this announcement, your veterinarian will become increasingly important in developing prevention protocols, diagnosing, and treating disease in your herd.

Link Pointer Dehorning Calves
Dehorning calves is a simple, cost-effective practice that adds value to feeder cattle.

Link Pointer Limb Fractures in Calves: Repairs and Outcomes
Considering the environment that calves live in, limb fractures are rare. Typically, fractures result from external trauma to the limb. Causes of the fracture vary depending on age. Even before delivery, calves are subject to fractures due to dystocia (backward presentation, or an oversized calf). Newborn calves may suffer from being stepped on by a cow, and as they grow larger, fractures can occur from either self or mate-inflicted trauma.

Link Pointer Beef Quality Assurance: Injection Sites and Techniques
To lessen injection-site defects in economically important cuts of beef, the use of a preferred site for all subcutaneous or intramuscular injections should be the best practice to follow. Several health products are now approved for injection sites such as the neck and ear with general guidelines on needles use and handling.

Link Pointer Cattle Gut Microbe Series: Ruminococcus species
Ruminococcus species are an anaerobic, spherical shaped, Gram-positive species of bacteria that are present in the digestive and reproductive tracts of cattle.. These bacteria are highly abundant and contribute to the digestive and reproductive health of the animal.

Link Pointer Cattle Gut Microbe Series: Lactobacillus species
Lactobacillus microbes are abundant and influential in the rumen of cattle. Lactobacillus species are rod-shaped, gram-positive bacteria that produce lactic acid. Depending on the situation, Lactobacillus microbes can be both beneficial and/or harmful to cattle performance.

Link Pointer Asian Longhorned Tick
The origin of the tick in the US remains unknown. Some possible routes of entry include entering on domestic pets, horses, livestock or humans. The real impact of the introduction of this tick into the US is not clear at this time, but animal health officials are concerned about potential detrimental impacts on livestock and wildlife.

Link Pointer Grass Tetany Prevention and Treatment
Spring with its green pastures is the time of year that cattle long for at the end of a long winter. These grasses will be lush and your cows will tear a fence down to get on these pastures, but these grasses also will be full of moisture and potentially diluted of minerals. This can lead to a condition known as grass tetany.

Link Pointer Bull Breeding Soundness Evaluation
A bull breeding soundness evaluation (BSE) is a uniform method of assessing a bull’s likelihood of establishing pregnancy in an appropriate number of open, healthy, cycling cows or heifers in a defined breeding season.

Link Pointer Involve Your Veterinarian
Your veterinarian plays an important role in preventing, diagnosing and treating disease in your herd. Selecting the proper treatment depends on accurately diagnosing the problem, so work with your local veterinarian to develop a health care program designed to fit your specific needs. With the new FDA feed antibiotic regulations in place, it is more important than ever to have a veterinarian-client-patient-relationship (VCPR) with your veterinarian.

Link Pointer Infectious Bovine Keratoconjunctivitis Cattle Pinkeye
Infectious bovine keratoconjunctivitis (IBK), more commonly known as pinkeye in cattle, is a highly contagious bacterial infection of the eye. Although pinkeye is a non-fatal condition, it has a tremendous economic impact on the US cattle industry.

Link Pointer Veterinary Feed Directives
What beef cattle producers need to know about the upcoming federal regulatory changes for medicated feeds. Medicated feeds are valuable tools that can be utilized by beef cattle producers for various health or production reasons. Such reasons include the treatment, control or prevention of certain diseases, or for growth promotion and feed efficiency.

Link Pointer Bovine Trichomoniasis: Fact Sheet for Tennessee Producers
Infected cattle usually appear and act normal without any outward signs of infection. The first indication of an infected herd will be when cows are examined for pregnancy and too many cows are open (not pregnant), or there is a strung out (prolonged) calving season, or a reduced calf crop (low birth rate).

Link Pointer Vaccinating the Herd
A successful herd health program includes, but is not limited to, proper herd immunization (vaccination) to prevent and/or control a variety of infectious diseases. However, selecting the proper vaccines for your herd can be a difficult task considering the large number of vaccines that are available.

Link Pointer Safety and Security for the Beef Operation
Safety and security on the farm should be a concern for beef producers. The outbreak of Foot and Mouth Disease (FMD) and the potential spread of anthrax to the United States make animal care a very important issue.

Link Pointer Leptospirosis in Beef Cattle
Leptospirosis is known to be a common disease of cattle generally resulting in reproductive failure such as abortion and infertility. Leptospirosis is contagious and is spread by cattle including bulls.

Link Pointer Anaplasmosis in Cattle
Anaplasmosis is a disease of cattle, sheep and goats resulting in anemia and sometimes death especially in adult cattle. This disease is seen worldwide and is a common disease in the southern United States.

Link Pointer Controlling Parasites of Beef Cattle Improves Performance and Value
Controlling parasites can both improve performance and add value to feeder cattle. Losses in performance and value amount to millions of dollars each year from loss of blood and just plain irritation. This article will present a discussion of control of both external and internal parasites.

Link Pointer Bluetongue and Epizootic Hemorrhagic Disease in Livestock
Bluetongue (BT) and Epizootic Hemorrhagic Disease (EHD) are diseases caused by similar viruses that are rapidly spread by biting gnats, resulting in similar symptoms in cattle, sheep and whitetail deer, among others.

Link Pointer Bovine Virus Diarrhea Virus Infection in Cattle
BVD infections appear to be common in US cattle. The virus can spread through the cowherd rapidly. The calf is the most likely animal to be responsible for spreading the virus. The resulting infection is most likely to be associated with reproductive problems of some kind.

Link Pointer Dallisgrass Staggers
Dallisgrass Staggers is a problem that is likely to be seen in cattle and horses this fall due to the warm, wet summer that we have experienced. Due to the increased growth of warm season grasses, more seed heads will be produced every year and should be managed to prevent this issue.

Link Pointer Identifying Beef Cows “At Risk” of Becoming Downers
This is of value to cow-calf producers in evaluating the risk of “downer cows” in their herds. Market “at risk” cows before further deterioration occurs and they still have value. At risk cows that cannot be immediately marketed should be separated from the herd and provide management, health and nutrition programs to reduce the risk.