The annual Pulmonary Arterial Pressure Summit Conference was held August 3-4 in Fort Collins at Colorado State University’s Agricultural Research Development and Education Center. The purpose was to advance knowledge of PAP testing and brisket disease in cattle and to give hands-on training to veterinarians, vet technicians and veterinary students.

This year 47 people attended, including 22 veterinarians, 6 grad students, 2 veterinary students and three interns along with a few producers who PAP test their cattle and some notable industry representatives, according to Bill McKee, a rancher from Carbondale who has taken a leading role in tackling the problem.

CSU veterinary extension specialist Frank Garry gave an in-depth review of the physiology of brisket disease with numerous lab slides and photos. The presentation illustrated how many organs in the body interact with each other in response to the disease and how its effects are similar in humans and other animals as well.

CSU’s noted expert in the field, Tim Holt, explained some of the idiosyncrasies of PAP testing. Using both high-tech and chalkboard art, he explained several common problems that can occur chute-side. Time was spent discussing and showing proper equipment set-up and the quality of various products used. Cattle handling, equipment, and techniques along with their effects on PAP scores were also discussed.

During the first afternoon, CSU animal scientists Mark Enns and Scott Spiedel discussed PAP EPDs. CSU has collected PAP data from their own herd for several years and is now working with the American Angus Association to expand the database to increase their accuracy. Producers were encouraged to submit PAP data along with DNA samples to their breed association. An expanded database, including parentage, age and elevation of cattle at time of PAP test, will help expedite further research on brisket disease, McKee said.

Greta Krafsur, DVM, who works at CSU in bovine research and at the University of Colorado School of Medicine in human pulmonary hypertension research, gave a presentation using microscopic slides and bovine organ samples harvested at local packing plants. The similarities between bovine brisket disease, sudden feedlot death syndrome and human pulmonary hypertension are worthy of further research, she said. Brisket disease research might benefit from pursing additional funding from the human research field, as well as within the cattle industry, McKee noted.

Holt followed with a discussion of pulmonary hypertension and sudden feedlot death syndrome at moderate elevation feedlots as well as heart scoring. Holt, Krafsur and Enns, along with their students, have been collecting organ and tissue samples from around the region to expand their database.

On day two, Holt went over PAP equipment and setup procedures with help from longtime assistant Lisa Herrick, who is originally from Alamosa, Colo. After questions and answers in the classroom, everyone moved to the chute barn. Thirty bulls provided by Leachman Cattle of Colorado were PAP tested, and all in attendance had an opportunity to participate in every phase of the process.

“As we move forward with PAP EPDs, most producers believe it imperative that PAP testing be done to a certain standard, similar to ultrasound carcass scanning,” McKee said in summarizing the conference. “Certified technicians, using industry standard equipment, along with age, elevation and any health treatment or growth hormones should be submitted with PAP scores. Several environmental and management variations have an effect on PAP scores, and the range of PAP scores within a contemporary group can tell each producer how that group may or may not thrive in a given environment.”

“I have no doubt this gathering of the best in their field will succeed, and this course will help teach the next generation. It would be my hope, and I’m sure many others would agree, that if death and economic loss can be reduced, and livestock in our care are harvested for their highest and best use, this research will be time well-spent,” he concluded.