Short communication: Behavioral attitude scores associated with bovine respiratory disease identified using calf lung ultrasound and clinical respiratory scoring.


Department of Medical Sciences, School of Veterinary Medicine, University of Wisconsin, Madison 53706. Electronic address: [Email]


The objective of this study was to determine whether calves exhibit differences in behavioral attitude when diagnosed with their first bovine respiratory disease (BRD) event and whether fever (≥39°C) at the time of BRD diagnosis affected attitude. Preweaned dairy calves (n = 280; 21 ± 6 d) were examined twice weekly until weaning using a clinical respiratory score (CRS; CRS+: 2 respiratory categories with scores of 2 or greater; CRS-: 1 respiratory category with a score of 2 or greater or all respiratory categories scoring less than 2), lung ultrasound, and attitude score (normal = bright, alert, responsive; depressed = dull but responds to stimulation, slow to stand, or reluctant to lie down). Bovine respiratory disease was categorized as subclinical BRD (SBRD; CRS- and lung consolidation ≥1 cm2; n = 164) or clinical BRD (CBRD; CRS+, with or without lung consolidation; n = 79). Calves without BRD (NOBRD; n = 37) remained CRS- with lung consolidation <1 cm2 for the study. Depressed attitudes were found in 23, 6, and 0% of CBRD, SBRD, and NOBRD calves, respectively. In calves with CBRD, the odds of having a depressed attitude were 5.2 (95% confidence interval, confidence interval: 1.1-23.7) and 4.5 (95% confidence interval: 2.0-10.4) times higher compared with the odds of NOBRD and SBRD calves having a depressed attitude, respectively. The odds of having a depressed attitude did not differ between SBRD and NOBRD calves. Fever was associated with the odds of having a depressed attitude score, whereby calves with a fever had 6.2 (95% confidence interval: 2.8-14) times higher odds of having a depressed attitude score compared with calves without a fever. Sensitivity and specificity of the attitude score for identifying CBRD were 23% (95% confidence interval: 14-33) and 95% (95% confidence interval: 82-99), respectively. Producers should be cautious when using this attitude score as the primary means of detecting calves affected by BRD.


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