Sunday, September 24, 2023

How To Treat Pneumonia In Calves

Maximise The Animals Immunity

What’s the Best Treatment for Pneumonia in Calves
  • Ensure the calf receives enough colostrum
  • Vaccination

Vaccinating cattle before they get pneumonia can be a very effective way of controlling disease. The vaccine stimulates the animals immune system to produce antibodies. These antibodies help the animal to fight infection when they encounter it. Bovipast RSP provides protection against both viral and bacterial pneumonia. It provides protection against two viral causes of pneumonia, RSV and PI3 viruses and the bacterium Mannheimia haemolytica. Calves can be vaccinated from two weeks of age. The vaccination program is two shots four weeks apart. A booster dose should be given before the next period of risk. Bovipast contains iron regulated protein antigens. Bacteria need iron to multiply and survive in the lungs. The IRPs in Bovipast reduce the risk of these pasteurella bacteria multiplying. Bovipast can be administered at the same time as Bovilis IBR Marker Live.

Compatible With Bovilis Ibr Marker Live

Vaccination with Bovilis IBR Marker Live at the same time as Bovilis Bovipast RSP may be required where IBR involvement has been detected on a farm or where the risk of introduction of the disease is high i.e. purchasing stock or animals returning from shows or sales. The compatibility of Bovilis Bovipast RSP and Bovilis IBR Marker Live has been proven in a challenge study.

Conflict Of Interest Statement

None of the authors of this paper has a financial or personal relationship with other people or organisations that could inappropriately influence or bias the content of the paper. The Technical Working Group includes employees of Pfizer Inc. and Volac Ireland these companies played no role in the design, development or journal submission of this review series.

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Minimising Exposure To Infection

Close contact with other animals allows respiratory pathogens to spread easily. Individual housing of dairy calves either indoors or outside is generally linked to improved calf health . There is long-term recognition of the benefit to dairy calf health of outdoor housing in hutches especially for the prevention of diarrhoea and respiratory disease .Similarly, keeping age groups separate and group sizes small has been shown to reduce respiratory disease .

Introduction of animals from other herds carries a risk of disease transfer, even in virtually closed herds, where only occasional replacement animals are brought in. Keeping recent purchases separate from the herd for 2-3 weeks to ensure that they are not incubating a respiratory disease is an adequate control measure.

Treating Calf Pneumonia

In the face of an outbreak of enzootic pneumonia in a closed herd or when a chronic problem is recognised, it is important to attempt to identify the causative agents and management and environmental factors in order to target preventive measures in the future. There are a number of investigative techniques that can be used in the face of a pneumonia outbreak. These include:

In all cases antimicrobial treatment should be under veterinary guidance and should be outlined in the farms herd health plan.

Calf Pneumonia and Welfare

Single suckled calves reared in outdoor systems are at lowest risk of pneumonia

Good Practice Based on Current Knowledge

Preventing And Treating Pneumonia In Cow Herds

What are the causes of calf pneumonia and what to do to ...

Got anything for coughing calves? This question seems to start up again every year around late autumn and early winteror anytime we have freezing nights and above-freezing days.

With all the variable weather of winter, alternating between rain, sharp winds, and chillier temperatures, its wise to keep an eye out for an increase in pneumonia each year. It certainly does seem to be a seasonal illness, ushered in by the changing weather and winds. Germs seem to be waiting on the walls in the barn to jump off and into the calves when the temperatures get above freezing . . . and when there is not much air movement . . . and when the bedding might be a tad soggy or damp. Though any one of these situations wont necessarily make for coughing calves, all three of these triggers acting together will almost certainly cause problems. Once you need to reach for treatments youve already lost the battle to some extent, but treating your animals in time can prevent the situation from turning into a complete train wreck, as coughing animals and full-blown pneumonia is likely to become.

Of course preventing the coughs is best, but its often difficult to do. Certainly dry bedding, fresh air, clean water, and top-notch nutrition are critical. And allowing dairy calves to nurse from their mother cows is as close to Mother Nature as can be foundactually, it is Mother Nature.

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What Can You Do To Treat Pneumonia

Most cases can get worse very quickly so the best course of action is to talk to your vet who will advise you on the best treatment. Some new antibiotics reach a very high level in lung tissue and can last for a prolonged period of time so as to reduce the chances of relapses.

Summer Pneumonia In The Beef Herd

Russ Daly

Professor, SDSU Extension Veterinarian, State Public Health Veterinarian

Respiratory disease in pre-weaned beef calves on pasture can be a concern for cow-calf producers. These outbreaks tend to be unpredictable, occurring in well-managed herds, as well as in less-intensively managed herds. As such, they are frustrating for cattle producers and veterinarians alike.

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Advice On Treating Calves

  • Use an antibiotic that targets the bacteria causing pasteurella and mycoplasma speak to your vet to ensure you pick the right one.
  • Administer pain relief.
  • Keep calves drinking milk: One of the biggest failures often seen in the treatment of sick calves is removing or reducing the amount of milk fed to animals. This reduces energy and the calf will lose weight and become weaker.
  • Calves with pneumonia usually still want to drink/eat. It is not recommended to tube feed milk to calves older than 10 days as the milk could get into the rumen and cause digestive problems.
  • If calves wont drink then consider tubing them small amounts .

Mycoplasma Pneumonia In Dairy Calves

Preventing pneumonia in calves

Mycoplasma pneumonia is caused by the organism Mycoplasma bovis . It also causes otitis media, arthritis and mastitis. It is often difficult to diagnose because animals may exhibit different signs when infected. However, it is a major cause of otitis media, so the chances of calves being infected with M. bovis is fairly high if they are exhibiting signs of ear infection, like a tilted head or droopy ear. This organism is actively being studied because there are many unknown factors about how it causes disease, how it spreads within the animal and how it spreads between animals.

M. bovis is highly contagious and can be spread by respiratory aerosols, respiratory secretions, nose to nose contact, feed, water, bedding material, feeding equipment and workers. If M. bovis becomes established in a dairy herd, close to 100 percent of calves will become infected. However, they may not develop clinical disease or shows signs of being ill. In populations of calves that are healthy and not experiencing environmental stress, it is possible to culture M. bovis from the lungs of up to 7 percent of the calves. The highest incidence of disease is usually in calves that are housed in group pens and are suffering from environmental stress, especially cold-stressed calves.

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Cattle Herd Pneumonia Treatments

In my time practicing veterinary medicine, I have treated animals of all ages sick with pneumonia, both on organic and conventional farms. No matter which type of farm is experiencing a pneumonia outbreak, the sickest animal will usually end up having permanent lung damage since it is too far advanced in the disease process due to starting treatment too late. On farms that are not certified organic, the best and most quickly effective treatment will be an antibiotic such as ceftiofur

Antibiotics can be excellent for bacterial pneumonia, but if an organic animal is given an antibiotic, it is banished from organic production forever . On organic farms, pneumonia treatment relies much more on non-synthetic measures, namely boosting the immune system using plant medicines with strong antibacterial effects and moving the animal to fresh air. However, according to U.S. law, organic farmers cannot withhold prohibited antibiotic treatments just to keep an animal organic. This restriction makes my life as a veterinarian more interesting and challenging, especially when faced with a disease like pneumonia that can easily kill an animal if not quickly and effectively treated.

If treatment is started soon enough, I have seen countless cases of pneumonia cleared up by using purely biological treatments to work with the animals own immune system.

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Treatment Of Calf Pneumonia

Calf pneumonia is more common in cattle. Calf pneumonia increases the risk of death. And so the calf needs to ensure a germ-free and comfortable environment from birth.

What needs to be said about the treatment of pneumonia in calves is that the calves should be taken to the Livestock Office immediately. The doctor will observe the calf and provide medical treatment.

Cattle pneumonia

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How To Prevent Pneumonia In Calves

Cases of pneumonia in calves can be prevented by creating a warm and dry environment with good air flow. This is achieved by ventilating the shed so it is neither musty nor chilly.

Why is ventilation important to calf health

Pneumonia is an infectious disease which can be caused by several types of viruses and bacteria. The disease results in 14.5% of dairy heifers failing to make it to first lactation¹, while in beef calves the lung damage caused by pneumonia infection can reduce weight gain by up to 6kg per month². As a disease of the lungs, infection commonly spreads between calves which are sharing the same airspace rather than relying on physical contact between animals.

In an inadequately ventilated calf shed, the air will typically recirculate around the shed so calves continuously inhale the same air, increasing the risk of bacteria or viruses entering calves lungs. An over ventilated shed can also cause problems, especially in winter, as the chilled environment will lead to calves using more energy to maintain body temperature leading to poorer growth rates and weaker immune systems. The secret to promote calf health through ventilation is to create a continuous flow of fresh air without draughts.

How to improve ventilation in calf sheds

In terms of numbers, Jonathan has had over 180 calves go through the shed since installing the VentTube Fresh system in October 2020. Only five have had pneumonia.

Additional pneumonia prevention strategies

What Are The Causes Of Calf Pneumonia And What To Do To Prevent It

6 signs of pneumonia in calves to look out for

Over two million¹ calves in Ireland every year, but unfortunately far too many fail to reach adulthood because of disease.

The incidence rate of bovine respiratory disease or calf pneumonia, as it is more commonly known, is approximately 20%². It is the most common reason for death and poor performance in calves and young, growing cattle.

Calf pneumonia is the result of a complex interaction between viral and bacterial pathogens, environmental stress factors and the animals own resilience to disease.

Calf pneumonia causes inflammation and damage of the lung tissue and airways compromising lung function. In severe cases, the damage is irreversible and can result in death. However, even mild cases of pneumonia can significantly increase the cost of production.

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Dairy Calf Respiratory Disease: Treatment In The Aftermath Of Cold Weather

Russ Daly

Professor, SDSU Extension Veterinarian, State Public Health Veterinarian

Cold weather is not just hard on the people taking care of animals, it can be tough on the animals themselves. Consider respiratory disease in dairy calves. Its not just our imagination that cold temperatures often bring with them an increase in sick calves there are physiologic reasons why cold weather increases the risk of respiratory disease.

Cold weather enhances the growth of certain respiratory germs on the inside of a calfs nose and upper respiratory tract. The more bacteria present in the upper respiratory tract, the more likely theyll reach the lower lung and cause pneumonia. Cold weather also thickens up mucus and impairs the work of the ciliary escalator the fine hair-like cell structures that sweep bacteria and foreign material from the lower airways up to the throat to be coughed up. All these factors increase the risk of pneumonia in calves.

Risk Factors For Calf Pneumonia

Inadequate ventilation of calf barns increases the risk of disease due to the buildup of humidity, noxious gases, dust and bacteria content . The main environmental risk factor predisposing calves to respiratory disease is poor ventilation in calf housing . Cold, humid conditions, sudden changes in air temperature, stress due to different causes and change in the environment have also been associated with outbreaks of pneumonia in young calves .

Inadequate intake of colostrum or poor quality colostrum will affect the calves defense against respiratory agents and make them more susceptible to infection . Rearing systems where calves of different origin are mixed together at a young age suffer from high levels of respiratory diseases . Large, shared air spaces, calves from different age groups and poor sanitation between calf batches often make these systems even more vulnerable . The stress associated with management procedures such as disbudding and castration may also be associated with a high respiratory disease incidence.

Control and Prevention of Calf Pneumonia

Management of calf pneumonia is reliant on a good understanding of the causes and risk factors . The incidence and severity of calf pneumonia is closely allied with management and disease patterns on farms and so the best approach is to implement a control program tailored to the individual farms needs. . These approaches can be divided into three areas:

  • Minimizing exposure of infection
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    Calf Pneumonia Causes Costs And Prevention

    Calf pneumonia or Bovine Respiratory Disease is a complex, multi-factorial disease which results in inflammation and damage to the tissues of the lungs and respiratory tract. It is the most common reason for poor performance and death in growing calves1.

    Any level of impaired respiratory health can impact a calf for its entire life leadingto reduced growth rates, later finishing times and lower milk yields. Combined with increased feed requirements and veterinary attention, the impact pneumonia can have on the profitability of the whole farming unit is often sizeable.

    There are many causes of pneumonia. The graph shows the prevalence of each pneumonia-causing pathogen.

    Any of these pathogens can contribute to calf pneumonia but mixed infections are also common. Its important to work with your vet to diagnose the cause of pneumonia accurately and re-test regularly because pathogens can change over time.

    Pneumonia Stress Factors

    Some of these pathogens live in the calfs respiratory tract without causing disease, but when the calf is stressed or immunocompromised they can become pathogenic, causing pneumonia. Environmental or management factors can cause stress and directly impact the susceptibility of calves to disease as well as its spread and volume.

    Factors known to have a significant impact on calf pneumonia:

    Clinical signs of pneumonia include:

    The Cost of Pneumonia

    Cost of pneumonia to dairy herds:

    Cost of pneumonia to beef herds:

    Preventing Pneumonia


    Coughing In The Shed Calf Pneumonia

    Treating a Sick Calf (Pneumonia)


    What is calf respiratory disease?

    Calf respiratory disease or pneumonia is an infection in the lungs. It can affect calves of any age and is generally the result of pathogens normally present in the respiratory tract that become an issue when the calfs immune system is compromised.

    What factors can result in pneumonia in calves?

    One of the most common factors resulting in a compromised immunity and therefore development of pneumonia is inadequate colostrum intake remember the 4 Qs! Quality, Quantity, Quickly and sQueaky clean.

    Other factors that could contribute to development of respiratory disease is:

    • Mixing calves of different ages,
    • Overcrowding of calves,
    • Stressors such as cold weather
    • Lungworm
    • Poor ventilation in the shed or wet/soiled bedding materials
    • Bacteria
    • Inhalation of liquids into the lungs
    • Often it is a combination of more than one of these factors resulting in pneumonia.

    What does a calf with pneumonia look like?

    • Fever
    • o Temperature can increase before any of the following signs start showing so taking rectal temperatures once daily for the first 10 days can help identify sick calves early, increasing the chance of effective treatment
  • Coughing
  • Increased breathing rate and/or shallow breathing
  • Drooling/wet chin
  • Head and neck extended, open mouth breathing
  • How to prevent calf pneumonia:

    Treatment of calf pneumonia:

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    Cause Of Calf Pneumonia

    Calf pneumonia results from a complex interaction between disease-causing viruses and bacteria and the animals immune system that is also influenced by external stress factors.

    Bovine viral diarrhoea may also be associated with pneumonia in some herds, due to the negative effects it has on an animals immune status.

    These viruses can cause disease by themselves or damage the defence mechanisms of the respiratory tract and predispose the calf to secondary-bacterial infections of the lungs.

    There are a large number of bacteria that can cause disease in their own right or act as secondary invaders following viral damage to the lung defence mechanisms.

    The important bacteria associated with calf pneumonia are mannheimia haemolytica, pasteurella multocida, histophilus somni and mycoplasma bovis.

    An animals susceptibility to calf pneumonia will be influenced by the strength of its immune system. In young calves, the single-biggest factor affecting the immune system is colostrum.

    Ensuring calves receive good-quality colostrum as quickly as possible after birth will give them the best possible start in life and help reduce the risk of disease.

    A calfs immunity will also be affected by nutrition, management practices, stress and the environment. Issues in any of these areas will have a negative impact on the calfs ability to fight disease.

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