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Respiratory Health

Don’t Let Bovine Respiratory Disease Go After Your Calves. Or Your Bottom Line

Bovine respiratory disease (BRD) can be frustrating for beef producers for a number of reasons. The multitude of factors that contribute to the disease can make it difficult to prevent or manage. And BRD can lead to significant economic losses:

  • It’s the No. 1 cause of mortality in weaned calves1
  • Most BRD deaths occur shortly after feedlot arrival or within 45 days2,3
  • It costs producers $900 million in losses each year from death, reduced feed efficiency and treatment costs4

Help protect your investment by working with your veterinarian on a BRD prevention protocol, and stay current on the most recent BRD information:

Bovine Respiratory Disease (BRD)

What is bovine respiratory disease (BRD)?

  • Any disease of the upper and/or lower respiratory tracts
  • Also known as shipping fever because it’s often associated with transport

Cattle affected

  • Most commonly occurs in weaned beef cattle as they move to the feedlot
  • Preweaned calves (enzootic calf pneumonia)

Disease development

  • A multifactorial etiology that may include viruses, bacteria, host immunity, environmental stressors, nutrition and more
  • Typically, stress associated with transportation, commingling, weaning and other factors predisposes the animal to infection
  • The lining of the respiratory tract may be damaged by viruses such as:
    • Bovine viral diarrhea virus (BVDV) Types 1a, 1b and 2
    • Infectious bovine rhinotracheitis (IBR) caused by bovine herpesvirus-1 (BHV-1)
    • Bovine respiratory syncytial virus (BRSV)
    • Parainfluenza 3 (Pl3) virus
  • Viral damage opens the door for bacteria to invade the lungs:
    • Mannheimia haemolytica
    • Pasteurella multocida
    • Histophilus somni
    • Mycoplasma bovis

Clinical signs

  • Severity of signs can vary, depending on the organism(s) involved, but may include:
    • Labored breathing
    • Nasal discharge
    • Coughing
    • Reduced food and water intake
    • Fever, depression
    • Reluctance to move


  • Physical examination
  • Culture and antibiotic sensitivity, tissue analysis or advanced diagnostics


  • Identify and treat sick calves early for best outcomes
  • Work with your veterinarian to choose the right antibiotic
  • Monitor outcomes and refine protocols with your veterinarian


  • Precondition calves before marketing, including:
    • Vaccinating calves to help build immunity
  • Vaccinate the dam to help her produce good-quality colostrum
  • Metaphylaxis, or mass administration of antibiotics to at-risk calves, may help reduce the number of bacterial organisms present, but will have no effect on viruses

Beef Respiratory Treatment

Important Safety Information

ZACTRAN IMPORTANT SAFETY INFORMATION: For use in cattle only. Do not treat cattle within 35 days of slaughter. Because a discard time in milk has not been established, do not use in female dairy cattle 20 months of age or older, or in calves to be processed for veal. The effects of ZACTRAN on bovine reproductive performance, pregnancy and lactation have not been determined. Subcutaneous injection may cause a transient local tissue reaction in some cattle that may result in trim loss of edible tissues at slaughter. NOT FOR USE IN HUMANS. KEEP OUT OF REACH OF CHILDREN.


Bovine Respiratory Disease – Managing BRD With Good Record Keeping

Find out how strategic record keeping can help you mitigate the impact of BRD from Nathan Meyer, DVM, Boehringer Ingelheim.


Bovine Respiratory Disease – Using Metaphylaxis to Manage BRD

Metaphylaxis allows producers to administer treatment to a targeted group of cattle at risk of developing BRD. Know what to pay attention to following the administration of metaphylactic treatment from Nathan Meyer, DVM, Boehringer Ingelheim.

Respiratory Health Education and Resources

Three Tips to Extend Antibiotic Re-treatment Intervals

Increase first-treatment success rates without compromising calf.

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All Beef Cattle Products

Count on Boehringer Ingelheim for a wide array of products to help keep your beef cattle in good health and at peak performance.

USDA APHIS – Veterinary Services, NAHMS. Heifer calf health and management practices on U.S. dairy operations, 2007.
Edwards A. Respiratory diseases of feedlot cattle in the central USA. Bov Pract 1996;30:5–7. 
Loneragan GH, Dargatz DA, Morley PS, Smith MA. Trends In mortality ratios among cattle In U.S. feedlots. J Am Vet Med Assoc 2001;219(8):1122–1127. 
Science Daily. Bovine respiratory disease: New research to tackle major concern for cattle industry. Science Daily, Oklahoma State University. 2010. Available at: http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/03/100305112203.htm. Accessed April 2019.


EXPRESS®, PRISM®, PYRAMID®, PRESPONSE® and TRIANGLE® are registered trademarks of Boehringer Ingelheim Animal Health USA Inc. ZACTRAN® is a registered trademark of the Boehringer Ingelheim Group. ©2022 Boehringer Ingelheim Animal Health USA Inc., Duluth, GA. All Rights Reserved. US-BOV-0623-2021-V2