Calf pneumonia or bovine respiratory disease (BRD) is a complex multifactorial disease typically seen in housed young calves. BRD causes inflammation and damage to the lungs and airways that is often irreversible. Now is the time to start planning your pneumonia prevention strategy before housing and before inclement weather arrives.
There are many viruses and bacteria that can cause pneumonia in calves, even neighboring farms can have different viral and bacterial issues. The only way to find out what’s causing disease in your herd is to get tested – this involves getting blood, nasal swabs, or lung tissue samples if you have any discharge. However, other factors also play a role in outbreaks, including: weather conditions, ventilation, stressors (eg mixing, weaning or overcrowding) and calf immune status (BVD).
The clinical signs of advanced pneumonia can be easy to spot. These include:
- Feed reduction
- Dull attitude
- Head fall
- Increased respiratory rate
- Runny nose
One of the first signs that a calf is suffering from pneumonia is an increase in temperature, but it can occur days before other signs appear. Taking an animal’s temperature can help detect and treat a disease before it gets worse and permanent damage occurs.
Making sure your calves have good immune status can reduce cases of pneumonia. The quality and amount of colostrum a calf consumes affects its ability to fight disease, so ensure the calves get 3-4 liters, or at least Colostrum 10% of their body weight within 6 hours of birth is essential.
Vaccination protocols can also boost immune status, leading to reduced losses and improved growth rates. The following points are useful to consider when thinking about the use of the vaccine:
- Route of vaccination – each produces immunity via different mechanisms – these are not just alternative forms of administration!
- Intranasal vaccines give faster onset of coverage, but for a shorter period of time.
- Most injectable vaccines need to be given in two doses. The first primers the immune system and the second gives duration of coverage by strengthening the immune response. Protection is not complete for 2 weeks after the second dose.
Choosing the right vaccine for your individual needs is not always straightforward, so you should always consult your herd veterinarian. For more information, please call the firm on 01751 469343 or send us an email. [email protected]