Bovine Respiratory Disease CAP

brd-cap-logoThe BRDC CAP project project was led by Dr. James Womack of Texas A&M University and includes scientists and educators from the University of California-Davis, Colorado State University, the University of Missouri, New Mexico State University, Washington State University and USDA’s Agricultural Research Service.  The goal of the project was to reduce the prevalence of bovine respiratory disease complex in beef and dairy cattle for the improvement of animal welfare and profitability.  Texas A&M University was the lead institution for this project, which was supported by Agriculture and Food Research Initiative Competitive Grant no. 2011-68004-30367 from the USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture.

Bovine respiratory disease complex (BRDC), also referred to as pneumonia or shipping fever, is the leading natural cause of death in U.S. beef and dairy cattle, causing the annual loss of more than one million animals and financial losses in excess of $700 million. Bovine respiratory disease is considered a complex, because many different viral and bacterial pathogens are known to be involved in causing disease symptoms. Newly-available genomic tools offer an opportunity to employ novel genetic approaches to select for cattle that are less susceptible to disease. Decreasing the incidence of bovine pneumonia is much needed given increasing concern about food animal welfare and the use of therapeutic treatments. Incorporating disease-resistance into breeding programs offers a sustainable, long-term approach to reducing disease incidence and improving animal health.

Coordinated Agricultural Projects (CAP) are large-scale USDA National Research Initiative (NRI) awards intended to promote collaboration, open communication and exchange of information and coordination of activities among individuals, institutions, states, and regions. CAP participants serve as a team that conducts targeted research, education, and extension in response to emerging or priority area(s) of national need. The BRDC CAP features a unique interdisciplinary team of veterinarians with bovine respiratory disease complex experience in both dairy and beef cattle, geneticists (with specialties in animal health, disease, immunology, epigenetics, and quantitative genetics), epidemiologists, animal behaviorists, microbiologists, livestock economists, and veterinary and livestock cooperative extension specialists.

The research, education, and extension goals of the project are below.


  • Identify loci associated with BRD resistance/susceptibility in beef and dairy cattle - 2000 dairy calves diagnosed as either a BRD case or control on a collaborating dairy calf rearing ranch (CA) will be genotyped with a high density SNP chip genotyping assay - 2000 feedlot cattle diagnosed as either a BRD case or control on a collaborating feedlot (TX) will be genotyped with a high density SNP chip genotyping assay - Genotypes from 1000 dairy (NM) and 1000 beef (NV) case:control animals will be used to validate loci associated with BRD in the discovery populations
  • Identify the interaction of genetic background of host with BRD pathogens - Host response to challenge studies with the seven main pathogens associated with BRDC (Mycoplasma spp., Mannheimia haemolytica, Pasteurella multocida, Histophilus somni, bovine viral diarrhea (BVDV), infectious bovine rhinotracheitis (IBR), and bovine respiratory syncytial virus (BRSV)) will be assessed using RNA-seq whole-transcriptome shotgun sequencing
  • Develop estimated transmitting values (PTA/EPDs) for susceptibility to BRD • Develop a BRD diagnostic assay based on the genome sequence of BRD pathogens
  • Determine the impact of nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory therapies (NSAIDS) on severity and duration of BRD episodes - Behavioral and physiological changes associated with BRD will be determined along with how NSAID therapy affects these responses in animals


  • Develop a nationally accessible distance-learning course on the integration of animal health management with genomic and animal breeding approaches to reduce livestock disease
  • Develop an undergraduate summer research internship program to expose and train students in multidisciplinary integrated research to reduce BRD prevalence • Develop a veterinary feedlot and dairy internship program
  • Sponsor graduate and undergraduate students to attend the Southern Great Plains Dairy Consortium where extension and research activities will be ongoing
  • Develop a 4-H curriculum to expose and train youth on animal disease using BRD as an example application


  • Utilize existing extension networks to integrate producers, industry, veterinarians, researchers, graduate and veterinary students into the conduct and interpretation of the research trials • Enhance eXtension by contributing new content in the area of BRD information
  • Determine the economic cost of BRD to dairies and feedlots and develop stochastic bio-economic models for the net cost-benefit evaluation of implementing strategies for reducing the prevalence and severity of BRD
  • Develop and deliver educational programs on best management practices for integrated and economically sustainable animal health management, genomic, and animal breeding approaches to reduce BRD
  • Develop video clips describing diagnosis and management approaches to decrease the incidence of BRD will be developed for viewing and distribution via various outlets including YouTube, eXtension, and the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association (NCBA) TV show “Cattlemen to Cattlemen”