Components of a risk assessment tool for prevention and control of bovine respiratory disease in preweaned dairy calves

Sharif S. Aly, Betsy M. Karle, Deniece R. Williams, Gabriele U. Maier, Sasha Dubrovsky

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


Bovine respiratory disease (BRD) is the leading natural cause of death in US beef and dairy cattle, causing the annual loss of more than 1 million animals and financial losses in excess of $700 million. The multiple etiologies of BRD and its complex web of risk factors necessitate a herd-specific intervention plan for its prevention and control on dairies. Hence, a risk assessment is an important tool that producers and veterinarians can utilize for a comprehensive assessment of the management and host factors that predispose calves to BRD. The current study identifies the steps taken to develop the first BRD risk assessment tool and its components, namely the BRD risk factor questionnaire, the BRD scoring system, and a herd-specific BRD control and prevention plan. The risk factor questionnaire was designed to inquire on aspects of calf-rearing including management practices that affect calf health generally, and BRD specifically. The risk scores associated with each risk factor investigated in the questionnaire were estimated based on data from two observational studies. Producers can also estimate the prevalence of BRD in their calf herds using a smart phone or tablet application that facilitates selection of a true random sample of calves for scoring using the California BRD scoring system. Based on the risk factors identified, producers and herd veterinarians can then decide the management changes needed to mitigate the calf herd's risk for BRD. A follow-up risk assessment after a duration of time sufficient for exposure of a new cohort of calves to the management changes introduced in response to the risk assessment is recommended to monitor the prevalence of BRD.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalAnimal Health Research Reviews
StateAccepted/In press - 2020


  • BRD scoring system
  • mobile application
  • prevalence
  • preweaned dairy calves
  • questionnaire
  • risk assessment
  • risk score

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Animal Science and Zoology


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