To evaluate associations between weather conditions and management factors with the incidence of death attributable to bovine respiratory disease complex (BRDC) in high-risk auction-sourced beef calves.
Cohorts (n = 3,339) of male beef calves (545,866) purchased by 1 large cattle feeding operation from 216 locations and transported to 1 of 89 feeding locations (backgrounding location or feedlot) with similar management protocols.
Associations between weather conditions and management factors on the day of purchase (day P) and during the first week at the feeding location and cumulative BRDC mortality incidence within the first 60 days on feed were estimated in a mixed-effects negative binomial regression model.
Significant factors in the final model were weaning status; degree of com-mingling; body weight; transport distance; season; precipitation, mean wind speed, and maximum environmental temperature on day P; environmental temperature range in the first week after arrival at the feeding location; and interactions between distance and wind speed and between body weight and maximum environmental temperature. Precipitation and wind speed on day P were associated with lower cumulative BRDC mortality incidence, but wind speed was associated only among calves transported long distances (≥ 1,082.4 km). Higher mean maximum temperature on day P increased the incidence of cumulative mortality among calves with low body weights (< 275.5 kg).
CONCLUSIONS AND CLINICAL RELEVANCE
Several weather conditions on day P and during the first week after arrival were associated with incidence of BRDC mortality. The results may have implications for health- and economic-risk management, especially for high-risk calves and calves that are transported long distances.