Understanding the willingness of farms to utilize lung scanning in their cattle operations

Project Overview

Project Type: Farmer/Rancher
Funds awarded in 2020: $26,745.00
Projected End Date: 01/31/2022
Grant Recipient: Hunley Creek Heifer Farm
Region: North Central
State: Indiana
Project Coordinator:
Tabitha Steckler Hurst
Hunley Creek Heifer Farm

Information Products


  • Animals: bovine


  • Animal Production: animal protection and health
  • Education and Training: farmer to farmer, on-farm/ranch research
  • Farm Business Management: feasibility study

    Proposal summary:

    Calves with lung damage have reduced growth, are older at first calving, and produce less milk in their first lactation, all which negatively impact farm profitability. Even though this is known, bovine respiratory disease continues to challenge farmers because of the error associated with visual diagnosis. To mitigate this variation, thoracic ultrasonography (lung scoring) has become a quantitative way to study respiratory disease. Previous research has shown lung scanning to be an effective way to identify lung damage.  However, this technology’s practicality is not well understood when used in production settings. This project seeks to study how beneficial and cost-effective lung scanning will be to both dairy and beef operations. Using lung scanning to select healthier animals reduces the cost of raising replacement heifers and provides economic sustainability. By using lung scanning in beef backgrounding operations, there could be a decrease in antibiotic use and treatment costs. Therefore, the aim of this study is to introduce lung scanning to southwestern Indiana and understand the benefits to the farming community.

    Project objectives from proposal:

    1. Development of an on-farm field day inviting area farms to witness the lung scanning technique and why it is important. From here we will gather other potential farms interested in the lung scanning service.
    2. Scan potential dairy replacement heifers around weaning (60 days) and four months to determine if lung lesions regress over time
    3. Determine validity, usability, and practicality of utilizing lung scanning on beef backgrounding operation.
    4. Report findings from lung scanning results in a newsletter format and administer a post survey identifying the willingness of producers to continue utilizing lung scanning.


    Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this publication are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the view of the U.S. Department of Agriculture or SARE.