Creating resilience against BRD

Santa Fe Ranch in Nogales, Arizona, aims to be a model for balancing a fragile desert ecology with the production of top-quality beef. Located on 3,400 acres just a few miles from the Mexico border, the ranch combines ag literacy and community service with exceptional care of its Angus-based cow herd. Owned by a family foundation, Santa Fe Ranch provides opportunities for people to enjoy the outdoors and learn about agriculture.

The cattle herd is central to the ranch’s mission, according to Dean Fish, Ph.D., Santa Fe Ranch manager. With a doctorate in reproductive physiology and 15 years’ experience in extension, Fish uses an educator mindset to apply the latest research and management practices to the operation.

“We are trying to be early adopters of technology and practices that we can share with fellow ranchers to improve their sustainability and livelihoods,” he says.

A man in a cowboy hat stands in a pasture.

Fish is an expert in low-stress cattle handling and providing an environment where every animal has a chance to succeed. His dedication to stockmanship includes going the extra mile to protect cattle from risk factors of bovine respiratory disease (BRD).

“My approach to BRD resilience starts with having a good nutritional background in the cows and then providing every opportunity for the calf to have a good immune response,” Fish says. 

Fish relies on BOVILIS® NASALGEN® 3-PMH to protect cattle against five of the most common viral and bacterial pathogens that cause BRD. With intranasal administration, BOVILIS NASALGEN 3-PMH is easy to use with no worry about injection site lesions. The modified live vaccine is safe to use in calves one week of age or older.

“When giving BOVILIS NASALGEN 3-PMH, it doesn’t matter what status those cows are in in that herd. I don’t risk any chance of impacting the cow’s fertility or their conception. That’s number one in a herd where we have varying calving dates,” Fish says.

Extreme drought recently put BOVILIS NASALGEN 3-PMH to the test. Limited pasture forced Fish to wean calves early — some of them as young as three months. Vaccination with BOVILIS NASALGEN 3-PMH gave calves the resiliency they needed to thrive after weaning.

“This really was a critical game changer for me,” Fish recalls. “In fact, the feedlot owner called me and asked me what my protocol was because he was so impressed with the way those calves took off, especially for as vulnerable and as high risk as some of those calves probably were.”

Fish also likes the vaccine’s unique BluShadow® diluent, which avoids second-guessing which animals have been vaccinated.

Using BOVILIS NASALGEN 3-PMH to create BRD resilience fits the mission of Santa Fe Ranch, Fish says.

“In order to be relevant in the beef industry, you’ve got to stay at the front edge of using the best products and the best things that fit into your program. Merck Animal Health products have provided tremendous value to me in my vaccination program. I have a moral obligation to set those cattle up for wherever that next step is for them to be as healthy and as resilient as they can. And the Merck products let me do that.”

Meet other Game Changers who are working to better their operations, ensure their legacies and improve their industry.

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