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Cases of Bovine Congestive Heart Failure Increasing
Bob Judd, DVM, DABVP (Equine Medicine), DABVP (Canine and Feline Practice)
Published: June 12, 2023

Veterinarian Raymond Randall stated on drovers.com that congestive heart failure in cattle is increasing. It seems a significant number of cattle are dying due to congestive heart failure, as cattle are fed to achieve maximum weight.

One major feed yard has reported up to 40 deaths per week in these late-term cattle during the peak heat season. Veterinarians began training feedlot personnel to recognize and diagnose the disease and launched a research project that recorded heart and lung scores on 20,000 cattle breeds. 

The study found that 5% of calves with black hides were assigned heart scores for congestive heart failure. The heritability of the trait is about 35%, which is high, and indicates that genetic selection can lower the amount of disease.

A research project led by the US Animal Research Center looked at animals with similar genetic backgrounds to determine differences in the genetics of affected cattle versus those of non-affected cattle. The project found that certain regions had a higher likelihood of cattle developing congestive heart failure, and without aggressive interventions, this syndrome would likely increase. 

This is a significant loss when cattle worth $2500 die, and the feed yard has invested $1200 in feed. Dr. Brian Vander Ley, Veterinary Epidemiologist at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, states that research shows the frequency of risk alleles (a form of a gene found in chromosomes) is higher in Angus and Red Angus cattle.

The American Angus Association is researching the topic at Kansas State. The cause of the increased amount of congestive heart failure is not clear. 

Hopefully, the researchers can find genetic markers related to congestive heart failure in order to identify and prevent the use of these related bulls.

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