PI Testing Cattle

By Laci Jones and Jessica Crabtree

A healthy bottom dollar is important in any industry. With cattle prices dropping at the end of 2016, beef producers need to ensure their cattle are healthy, especially during the winter months, to get every penny added to that bottom dollar.

Commonly known as shipping fever, Bovine Viral Diarrhea Virus (BVDV) is a worldwide pest viruses that infect both domestic and wild ruminants. However, the clinical signs of the virus vary from no signs to respiratory and reproductive issues in the herd. Respiratory infections cause appetite loss and discharge from the eyes and nose.

While the respiratory signs may not be fatal, they can last 10 to 14 days. Other signs of the disease include diarrhea or bloody diarrhea, but these signs are not as common. Reproductive issues caused by BVDV include low pregnancy rates, abortions, low birth weights and calf loss from birth to weaning.

Infected cattle can spread BVDV throughout the entire herd, which is known as persistently infected (PI). A fetus can become a PI animal in two ways: vertical transmission or horizontal transmission. A fetus directly infected from the dam that is already a PI animal is known as vertical transmission. The more common way a fetus is infected is called horizontal transmission, where the bred cow was exposed to BVDV during the gestation period.

Learn more about PI testing in the February issue of OKFR.