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BVD Testing is not Your Silver Bullet

It is easy to get caught up chasing that single cure-all for health problems. The reality is that it takes a combination of good choices to improve health (both cattle and people).

I've seen producers rave about the latest and greatest thing that will finally get their cattle to grow fat, very quickly. Only to be let down when the product doesn't fix all the issues.

We have so many great products available to cattle producers these days. Some truly tremendous strides have been made in the advancements of the cattle industry. I believe most, if not all of these new products, could provide some type of benefit when used appropriately or used in the correct environment.

Yes, BVD-PI testing is a bullet but it is just one in a very well loaded revolver. If you also load it with these other bullets: vaccination, nutrition, biosecurity, management, and proper beef quality assurance practices; you stand a much better chance of hitting the target.

Let's take Bob, for instance. He was having problems with the health of the cattle he was feeding the past few months. 14% death loss, 57% morbidity rate. His operation was falling apart right in front of his eyes. Bob thought "hey, I'm gonna PI test all these calves, that'll cure my problems." He tests everything, found numerous PI's, got them out. Problem solved, right? Well, his mortality and morbidity rate went down but his cattle still aren't performing as well as they can. Red with rage, Bob throws his hands up and says "to hell with it, BVD-PI testing doesn't do anything." Well Bob, nothing is going to help when you haven't checked your herd in 3 days. Nothing will help the fact that you haven't cleaned out a pen in 2 years. Nothing will help the fact that you left a bottle of modified-live vaccine on the counter for 3 days and still used it.

I will be the first to say it: removing PI animals will not solve all of your problems. BVD testing is not your silver bullet.

But, BVD-PI testing is a critical bullet in the gun.

Many factors come into play when it comes to cattle operations. Bad bio-security can outweigh good management. Not BVD-PI testing can outweigh the best vaccines on the market. Bad nutrition will outweigh implants.

Testing for and removing BVD-PI animals is an excellent, proactive step for better herd health, higher daily gain, lower cost of gain, less mortality and less morbidity; ONLY if used in the correct environment. BVD-PI testing means nothing if you aren't shooting your other bullets.

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