2018 PAP Summit Conference summary | TheFencePost.com

2018 PAP Summit Conference summary

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

The veterinary professionals who attended the two-day conference also received nine continuing education credits. This year 47 people attended; 22 veterinarians, six grad students, two vet students and three veterinary interns along with a few producers who PAP test their cattle and some notable industry representatives.

In attendance this year was Kelli Retallick, director of genetic service for Angus Genetics Inc., a subsidiary of the American Angus Association, Larry Rowden and Adam Noble with ABS and Jim Gibb with Geneseek. One unique individual at the conference was Willie Altenberg. As a producer with a long history of PAP testing his cattle, he has broad experience with purebred as well as crossbred cattle. As a representative of both a breed association and a bull stud, he brought a lot of knowledge to the table.

After a relaxed and well-organized registration and social hour with plenty of fruit and pastries washed down with Mark Enns’ “special coffee,” which can “float a mule shoe,” day one got underway. Tim Holt gave a brief introduction of the distinguished speakers and previewed the event.

Frank Garry gave an in-depth review of the pathophysiology of brisket disease with numerous lab slides and photos. Although very technical by nature it was very interesting to observe how many organs in the body interact with each other in response to this disease, and how its effects are similar in humans and other animals as well.

Holt explained some of the idiosyncrasies of PAP testing. Using both high-tech and chalkboard art, as only Holt can do; he explained several common problems that can occur chute-side. Much 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 was discussed with numerous questions and answers coming from an engaged group. After a question and answer recap of the morning, lunch was served on-site, complements of CSU and staff.


The afternoon session got underway with Enns, and Scott Spiedel, from CSU, discussing 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 the accuracy of the PAP EPD. As we enter a new era with EPD’s and genomics in the cattle industry, I would encourage producers to submit their PAP data along with DNA samples to their breed association. An expanded database, including parentage, age and elevation of PAP tests will certainly expedite further research on brisket disease.

This simple cowboy doesn’t possess the vocabulary to express the passion and depth of knowledge of the next speaker, Greta Krafsur, DVM, and CSU resident. Krafsur works at both CSU in bovine research and the University of Colorado School of Medicine in human pulmonary hypertension research while pursuing a PhD in pathology. Her presentation using microscopic slides and bovine organ samples harvested at local packing plants was most interesting. The similarities between bovine brisket disease, sudden feedlot death syndrome and human pulmonary hypertension are worthy of further research. If we in the cattle industry truly want to expand brisket disease research we may need to pursue additional funding from the human research field as well as within the cattle industry.

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

Day one came to an end with good food and fellowship at a local restaurant. We need to thank Kelli Retallick with American Angus Association for picking up the tab.

Day two began with a light breakfast and more of Enns’ “special coffee.” Holt went over PAP equipment and setup procedures once again with help from longtime assistant Lisa Herrick. Many of you know Herrick from Alamosa, Colo. After Holt, she may hold the No 2 position for most PAP tests performed on cattle and her time and input is invaluable.


After questions and answers were addressed in the classroom, everyone moved to the chute barn. While Dave Shafer, PhD and ARDEC livestock manager moved a pen full of long yearling bulls up the alley, Holt and Herrick fine-tuned equipment. As bulls were loaded in the tub, Holt mixed surgical scrub solutions and once again went over animal health and wellbeing.

We PAP tested 30 bulls and everyone had an opportunity to participate in every phase with Holt at his best, doing and teaching. It was good to see the number of students and recent graduates in attendance along with their enthusiasm creating a great “hands on” opportunity for all. Leachman Cattle of Colorado provided the cattle.

As we move forward with PAP EPDs, most producers believe it to be imperative that PAP testing be done to a certain standard, similar to ultrasound carcass scanning. 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. When several different contemporary groups are used to calculate an EPD, adjustments for management and environment must be factored in. I have no doubt, this gathering of the best in their field will succeed in this endeavor 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. ❖

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