Statistics, Department of


Date of this Version



J. Anim. Sci. 2013.91:3564–3573


U.S. Government Work


Bovine respiratory disease (BRD) is the most economically important disease in U.S. feedlots. Infection can result in morbidity, mortality, and reduced average daily gain. Cheap and reliable genetic methods of prediction and protection from BRD would be highly advantageous to the industry. The immune response may correlate with BRD incidence. Cattle (n = 2,182) were vaccinated against common viral and bacterial pathogens of BRD. Two blood samples were collected, one during booster vaccination and one 21d later, enabling 3 phenotypes for each trait [prebooster (pre), postbooster (post), and delta (post minus pre)]. From the blood samples innate and adaptive responses [counts of white blood cells (WBC), neutrophils, lymphocytes, monocytes, eosinophils, and basophils] were measured. In addition, feedlot ADG and binary traits [health records (HR; 0 = healthy, 1 = ill) and lung scores (LS; collected at harvest; 0 = no lesions, 1 = lesions)] were also recorded. Traits ADG, HR, and LS have all been significantly correlated with infection to BRD. In this investigation we aimed to find correlations between the immune response and ADG, HR, and LS to find an easily measurable trait that would be a good predictor of BRD resistance after vaccination. The results showed an average positive delta for the innate immune response (eosinophils, basophils, neutrophils), whereas the adaptive immune response had an average negative delta (lymphocytes). Overall, we discovered that the immune responses had moderately high heritabilities (h2; lowest: delta monocytes, 0.21 ± 0.05; greatest: pre lymphocytes: 0.5 ± 0.05), with lymphocytes having the greatest h2 throughout the study (h2 ≥ 0.41). All genetic correlations were calculated using bivariate REML models. Although LS did not significantly correlate with any of the immune phenotypes, both ADG (post lymphocytes, -0.24 ± 0.12) and HR (pre eosinophils, -0.67 ± 0.29; delta WBC, -0.5 ± 0.24, and delta lymphocytes, -0.67 ± 0.21) did. All the significant genetic correlations with HR were negative; resistance to BRD appears to be a function of greater delta lymphocytes and WBC. The increase in eosinophils may potentially link its role in decreasing lymphocytes. These results may enable producers to predict if revaccination, quarantine, and breeding of animals is required to reduce the incidence of BRD postvaccination. In addition, immunological phenotypes maybe used to aid genomic selection indices to select animals with greater rates of protection after BRD vaccination.