Learning from your cousins – part 4 - Veterinary Practice
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Learning from your cousins – part 4

Oliver Tilling presents the last of his reports of a visit to the conference of the American Association of Bovine Practitioners with an account of some take-home points from the main streams

THE 46th Annual Conference of the
American Association of Bovine
Practitioners took place in
Milwaukee, Wisconsin, last
September 2013. I was fortunate
enough to attend the conference
itself plus an excellent two-day pre-
conference seminar on “The
replacement heifer from birth to
calving” (which I’ve reported on

A total of
1,900 vets, technicians
and students
from 16
attended the
conference, giving it a truly international
feel. If I was hoping for an easier
schedule following the long days of the
pre-conference seminar, I was to be
disappointed. Breakfast meetings started
at 6.30am and the last seminars of the
day finished at 6pm.

Organisation needed

There were so many different streams
running you had to be really organised
to ensure you attended everything you
wanted to – a handy pocket guide and
the AABP app helped with this!

There were clinical forums, general
sessions, beef sessions, dairy sessions,
sessions for students, research summaries, poster sessions, practice tips,
a veterinary technician programme and,
of course, an extensive commercial
exhibition with 115 exhibitors.

On top of this there were evening
dinner receptions, dessert receptions,
the Amstutz auction, Annual Business
and Awards luncheons, student “Quiz
Bowl” (a very animated American
version of University Challenge) and even a 5km run!
Of course, at the end of all this excitement it would have been entirely
rude to not partake in one or two liquid
refreshments with colleagues from
around the globe!

There were lots of take-home
messages from such a diverse number
of speakers – I’ll try to highlight some
of them.

The first clinical forum I attended
was “Cow-calf production: value added
services for your clients”, chaired by
Mark Hilton of Purdue University.
Highlighted here was that only 35% of
US beef cows are PDd and yet this is
the lowest hanging fruit for the vet.

In fact, whenever on a beef unit we
were encouraged to always ask the
question: Did you PD the cows last
time? Depending on feed costs, finding
one out of 100 cows empty pays for the
visit; 95% pregnant is ideal but 100% is
actually a sign the cows are being fed
too much.

To make more money out of the
beef cow is to spend less on the cow –
make her work harder. There are several
beef-only computer programs in the US
and getting a client onto a records
program was encouraged: once you’ve
got the records you’re attached to the
farm and then the vet is needed.

Summary sessions

Research summaries were fantastic bite-
size knowledge transfer sessions – at 15
minutes each you could dip in and out.

Theresa Ollivett of the University of
Guelph presented two summaries, one
on ultrasonography for diagnosis of
subclinical bronchopneumonia in dairy
calves; and one on progression of lung
consolidation after experimental
infection with Mannheimia haemolytica in
Holstein bull calves.

BRD affects both the longevity and
first lactation milk yield of a dairy cow,
and yet it is easy to ultrasound a calf’s
lungs for bronchopneumonia. Ensure the fur is clean and just
apply alcohol (no
clipping) and allow 9cm
depth on your probe.

This is using a rectal
ultrasound machine – the
one that sits in the car
boot the whole time
when not on a fertility
visit! Dr Ollivett was able
to perform an examination in about a
minute – it’s good for diagnosis,
assessment of management on farm
and assessment of pharmaceutical

Other excellent research summaries
included Sabine Mann’s work on
research farms suggesting different
nutritional planes in the dry period had
no significant effects on IgG
concentrations of bovine colostrum.

Andrew Kryzer won the award for
the best student research summary
demonstrating the Perfect Udder system
to heat-treat colostrum is equal to other
pasteurisation techniques on the effects
on passive transfer of IgG in neonatal
Jersey calves.

Comprehensive review

Geoff Smith presented one of the most
comprehensive review studies I have
ever seen into antibiotic decision-
making in calf scours. Looking back
over decades of research from several
countries, he summarised that the use of
oral antibiotics in the treatment of calf
scour had no discernible benefits

However, in the sick, scouring calf
the use of injectable antibiotics was
justified – if not for a primary pathogen
then due to the risk of overgrowth of
resident gut microflora and the risk of
secondary septicaemia from a
compromised intestinal lining.

Huge concern

On the final day of the conference I
attended a clinical forum run by Mike
Apley of Kansas State University on
applied pharmacology. By far and away
the biggest discussion point was how to
navigate residues and regulation – a
huge concern for American vets and
farmers, and there is clearly a lot of
legislation in the USA.

Other key points included the fact
that the withdrawal periods of drugs in
colostrum are being looked at in
America; and the concept that if a drug
is perceived to fail, is that because it
can’t treat that pathogen or because the
patient is too immunocompromised to

Attending this conference and the
pre-conference seminar was the best
CPD I have ever done. There was the
opportunity to learn from
internationally recognised experts, it was
excellent value for money, I got to travel
to the brewing capital of the USA and
meet some truly wonderful cattle vets
from around the world. I would
thoroughly recommend it.


The author would like to thank both
Shepton Veterinary Group and Zoetis
Animal Health for co-sponsoring his
trip to the AABP Annual Conference.

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