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Cow Calf BRD Risk Assessment Calculator

The objective of this assessment is to help you learn more about the
risk for Bovine Respiratory Disease (BRD) in your calves and how it could be reduced.

The calculator is a series of questions in 6 categories and will take approximately 10 minutes to complete. Please choose the answer that best reflects your farm or ranch.

Answer all questions in each category to complete the Cow Calf BRD Risk Assessment Calculator. When you have completed a category, click on the next category to open it. You must answer all questions in a category before moving on, but you can return to a previous category at any time. Relevant facts for each category are shown to the right of the calculator.

Like so many things you do, reducing the risk of BRD is about doing a lot of little things right.  Your response selections are color coded.  Green = lowest risk, Yellow = may indicate an increased risk for BRD and other diseases, Red = known to increase risk for BRD and other diseases.  To reduce the future risk of BRD in your herd, prioritize the areas you marked that were yellow or red for further consideration over the next year.

Nutritional Management

cows in field

When planning for winter feeding of cows and replacement heifers...

a. Do you use nutrient requirement tables to determine how much energy and protein they need?

b. Do you have your forages tested for nutrient content?

c. Do you evaluate and record the body condition score of individual animals?

If the protein requirements of your cows are not being met, do you provide a protein supplement to cows and heifers in their last three months of pregnancy?

If the energy requirements of your cows are not being met, do you provide an energy supplement to cows and heifers during winter feeding?

Do you provide a trace mineral supplement containing copper, selenium, etc. (i.e. not just white salt or sodium chloride)?

Have you tested any of your cattle to evaluate trace mineral status such as copper or selenium?

Calving and Calf Management

cow and calf

During the calving season do you have more than 1 in 20 cows that are hard pulls or C-section?

Do you have more than 1 in 10 heifers that are hard pulls or C-sections?

Do you use smaller breed bulls or consider birth weight EPDs when selecting bulls to breed heifers?

Do you separate cow/calf pairs from those yet to calve during the calving season?

Are cattle yet to calve moved to "clean ground" during the calving season?

Do you evaluate calves for evidence of nursing within 12 hours of birth?

Do you have colostrum replacer or frozen colostrum available during the calving season?

Do you regularly evaluate calves for illness between birth and weaning?

Do you use specific criteria to identify calves that may be sick and need to be evaluated?


red and white cows and calves

Are cows and replacement heifers vaccinated with a product containing IBR-PI3-BVD-BRSV before the start of breeding season?

a. If using a killed virus vaccine, do you booster within 2 to 4 weeks?

Are calves vaccinated with a product containing IBR-PI3-BVD-BRSV?

b. If using a killed virus vaccine, do you booster within 2 to 4 weeks?

Cattle Handling

cattle at gate

Do you and/or your employees use low stress cattle handling techniques on your farm or ranch?

Do cattle flow smoothly through your handling facilities?

When moving cattle through handling facilities, do people yell and shout or whistle loudly, or use a hot shot and dogs?

Do you consider temperament (excitability) when culling cows or choosing replacement heifers and bulls?

Weaning Procedures


Do you wean calves at least 45 days before transporting to a buyer or a feeding facility?

Do you delay weaning calves if extreme weather events (wet, cold, hot, dusty) are forecast?

Do you process calves (vaccination, castration, ear tagging, or branding) at weaning time?

Do you use "low stress weaning" techniques to minimize calf exposure to stressors that can reduce immunity and thus increase susceptibility to BRD?


cow in herd looking up

Do you ever bring in any new cattle (cows, bulls, replacement heifers, feeders) to your premises?

a. If yes, are they BVD-PI (Bovine Viral Diarrhea - Persistent Infection) test negative?

b. If yes, are incoming cattle isolated from the herd for a minimum of 14 days (30 is ideal)?

Do your cattle have contact (fencline, shared truck transport, shared grazing) with other cattle?

Do you know the BVD-PI status of your herd?

Calculate Your Score

Congrats! You have completed the Cow Calf BRD Risk Assessment Calculator. Click the button below to get your score.

Calculation complete! Your scores (green, yellow or red) and feedback for each category can now be seen within each category above.

Click each category above to view your feedback.

To review your answers,
Return to the Calculator


Beef cow nutrition not only affects the health and performance of the cow, but has long-term implications for the calf from birth to weaning and later in life.

Factsheet:  Managing the Pregnant Cow for Optimal Calf Health

Paying attention to and preventing the risks for dystocia and exposure to pathogens will help prevent the consequences of poor calf survivability and risks for disease, including BRD, later in life.

Factsheet: Calving Management and Its Influence on Calf Health

Early detection, proper identification, following a treatment protocol and label directions and keeping treatment records are essential to treatment success for calf cases of BRD.

Factsheet: Optimizing Pre-weaning Calf Care and Treatment to Reduce the Impact of BRD

Factors that go into appropriately using vaccines to boost herd immunity include determining which type of vaccine to use, when to give the vaccines to specific animals, and how to appropriately handle and give vaccines to get the most benefit.

Factsheet: Effective Use of Vaccinations on Cow/Calf Operations to Reduce Incidence of Bovine Respiratory Disease

Implementing low-stress cattle handling techniques and proper facility design can help aid an animal’s immune defense against bacterial and viral BRD pathogens.

Factsheet: Cattle Handling to Minimize the Incidence of Bovine Respiratory Disease

BRD was for many years commonly referred to as “Shipping Fever” because the disease was most often seen shortly after cattle had been shipped from one location to another. However, even though it is recognized that transportation stress is associated with BRD, there is not a simple cause and effect relationship between shipping and BRD.

Factsheet: Management Approaches to Reduce Transportation Stress Risk for BRD

Weaning is an inherently stressful process because it is usually connected with major changes. Reducing weaning stress will help reduce the risk of calfhood BRD.

Factsheet: Weaning Procedures to Reduce Stress and Minimize the Risk of BRD

Biosecurity includes sets of management practices that prevent disease from being transmitted between animals.

Factsheet: Biosecurity on the Ranch to Reduce Risks For Bovine Respiratory Disease