Behind the scenes with Dr. Jeff Caswell

Research Roundup Winter 2022

steer in the chute

Dr. Caswell tackles tough cattle disease

Dr. Jeff Caswell has a passion for research progress and disease prevention. Growing up on a small farm he realized that he enjoyed agriculture but as he progressed in his education he discovered his deep interest in pathology and disease. His research currently focusses on bovine respiratory disease in calves.  

In a 2020 study along with, his then PhD student, now Dr. Laura Bassel the pair investigated sixty young steers as they were brought into the feedlot. They hypothesized that if they stimulated an immune response that mimics a bovine respiratory disease response that there would be less occurrence and less severity of the real bovine respiratory disease. The researchers found that this artificial immune response that they stimulated actually worsened incidence and severity of bovine respiratory illness. This was an unexpected outcome for the researchers, but it has allowed them to observe that immunosuppression may not be the cause of bovine respiratory disease as previously thought. Dr. Caswell also discussed how he is very curious to see more precision agriculture approaches to animal management. He noted that in every animal study he has done there is large variation among individual animals when looking at their health, disease susceptibility, and immune response so he is interested in seeing a shift from herd management to a more individualized take. 

 These results and musings have led Dr. Caswell and his lab to dive into the role of inflammation in their current and future research to hopefully get to the bottom of the causes of bovine respiratory disease. 

This work has been funded by Zoetis, NSERC, BCRC, BFO, and OMAFRA

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