Summer Pneumonia In Beef Calves
Generally, mid to late summer is a time when cow-calf producers relax a little. Calving is over cows and calves are on summer pastures and typically it is a relatively uneventful time. But as summer progresses, producers should be on the lookout for summer calf pneumonia. Summer calf pneumonia is the term used to describe respiratory disease in pre-weaned calves on pasture. Over the past several years, this condition has been increasingly identified in beef herds. These outbreaks tend to be unpredictable, occurring in herds at all levels of management.
The infectious agents associated with summer calf pneumonia appear to be similar to those implicated in typical post-weaning bovine respiratory disease complex such as Mannheimia haemolytica, Histophilus somni, Pasteurella multocida, Infectious Bovine Rhinotracheitis Virus , and Bovine Respiratory Syncytial Virus . Compared to the post-weaning bovine respiratory disease encountered by animals entering backgrounding or feed lots, little is known about the risk factors that predispose calves to pneumonia while on pasture.
Some of the factors that have been speculated to be involved include the following.
Most reports are that treating calves with summer pneumonia is frequently successful. It is important to identify and treat affected calves early. While treatments appear successful, they are difficult and frustrating to accomplish on individual calves in pasture situations.
Richard Randle, DVM
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
Pathogens Causing Calf Pneumonia
A multitude of pathogens, including viruses, bacteria and Mycoplasma spp , are involved in different combinations on different farms . It is often suggested that the viruses and mycoplasmas are the primary infections and the bacteria cause a secondary infection in an animal whose defenses have been weakened by the first infection. The most common viruses isolated from enzootic pneumonia cases are:
- Respiratory syncytial virus
- Infectious bovine rhinotracheitis virus
- Bovine viral diarrhoea virus , has also been implicated in the bovine respiratory disease complex, not as a primary pathogen, but as a disease agent causing immunosuppresion.
Mycoplasmal agents are usually considered to be the most common agents causing the chronic form of enzootic pneumonia, even though Mycoplasma bovis has been identified as the causative agent in many acute outbreaks as well.
The most commonly isolated bacterial organisms are:
- Mannhaeimia spp.
- Hemophilus subspecies .
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How Do You Prevent Pneumonia In Calves
Pneumonia prevention in calves starts with the animals immune system. Just like the human body, immunity in animals is a key factor in staying healthy. For better husbandry, curbing the exposure to some environmental factors and stress can also turn the tide.
Although you cant completely eliminate the risk of this ailment, you can incorporate a couple of preventive measures that can set you on the right track. These measures include:
- Proper hygiene
To maximize the calfs immunity, vaccination remains a top priority. A vaccine can help the animals body create antibodies, which can fight off the infection. So, when should a calf be vaccinated for pneumonia? Ideally, the vaccination program should start when the calf is 2 weeks old.
It would receive 2 shots, four weeks apart. If there is a risk of an outbreak, then a booster shot may be suggested. Talk to a vet to know which vaccine to go for and whether your animal is infected. Another practical prevention tactic is to have a thermometer in the shed.
You can use it to check the temperature and ensure that the animal lives in comfortable conditions. If it is less than 10 °C , and the calf is about 3 to 8 weeks old, then its good for the animal to wear a jacket. But, for calves 2 weeks or younger, staying in less than 15 °C can put them at risk of disease. To make sure the calf is not cold, use a jacket.
Pneumonia prevention by improving the environment
Points to prevent pneumonia are:
Antibiotics For Treatment Of Cattle Respiratory Disease
W. D. Whittier, DVM, MSVA-MD Regional College of Vet. Med
Reprinted from VA Tech Livestock Update
A new antibiotic has been approved by the US Food and Drug Administration forthe treatment of cattle for respiratory disease. This brings to three thenumber of new antibiotic compounds approved for respiratory disease in recentyears. The active ingredient of the new product is florfenicol and the newproduct will be marketed commercially as Nuflor®. It is a relative of thedrug chloramphenical which was never approved for use in food animals in the USand which generated considerable concern and regulatory action when it was usedillegally in cattle. The newly approved drug is reported to have a highactivity against the bacteria that commonly infect the lungs of cattle affectedwith Bovine Respiratory Disease Complex .
Nuflor® is an injectable product that is labeled for intramuscularadministration. The treatment regime involves two injections given at a 48 hourinterval.
Also approved since 1990 are products containing two other compounds notpreviously approved for cattle. These drugs are ceftiofur contained onNaxcel® and tilmicosin contained in Micotil®. These three drugsgenerally show a higher odds of treatment success probability in laboratorytests against the bacteria of cattle pneumonia than drugs which had beenapproved for respiratory disease treatment previously.
Naxcel®: No slaughter or milk discard time, little tissue irritation
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Is Pneumonia In Calves Contagious
Yes. Contagious bovine pleuropneumonia can easily spread in cattle. But, it takes time for it to develop. The calf can get exposed to other infected cattle, especially if the animal coughs nearby. Another way the ailment spreads is through fluids, reproductive tissue, saliva, and urine.
Thats why many experts recommend cattle farmers give their animals enough space to thrive and not overstock their enclosures. Its important for the animal to have the freedom to move around and feel comfortable in the enclosure.
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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Calf Solutions Scours & Pneumonia Treatment Concentrate Medicated Caution
If symptoms persist after feeding the medicated milk replacer for 2 or 3 days, consult a veterinarian. Continue feeding the medicated calf milk replacer for 24 to 48 hours after the remission of disease symptoms.
Withdraw 5 days before slaughter. A withdrawal period has not been established for use in pre-ruminating calves. Do not use in calves to be processed for veal. A milk discard time has not been established for use in lactating dairy cattle. Do not use in female dairy cattle 20 months of age or older. When used in milk replacers, the treatment claim is limited to bacterial enteritis cause byEscherichia colionly. Use of more than one product containing neomycin or failure to follow withdrawal times may result in illegal drug residues.
FOR USE IN DRY FEEDS ONLY. NOT FOR USE IN LIQUID FEED SUPPLEMENTS.
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NOT FOR HUMAN CONSUMPTION.
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Calf Solutions® is a registered trademark of Milk Products LLC.
Manufactured By: Milk Products LLC, 435 East Main St., P.O. Box 150, Chilton, WI 53014
Early Interventions To Help Sick Calves
Scours and pneumonia are the twin challenges of every calf raiser, especially heading into winter.
But early detection, coupled with an arsenal of interventions, can help many calves pull through and thrive despite these potential setbacks.
According to Pamela Ruegg, DVM, MPVM, Department Chair at the Michigan State University College of Veterinary Medicine, supportive care is more valuable than antibiotics.
She said the natural inclination to manage calf diseases solely with a needle and a bottle is trumped by a host of other care methods that can guide calves on the road to recovery.
Together with her former colleague, Sheila McGuirk, Professor Emeritus at the University of Wisconsin School of Veterinary Medicine, Ruegg offered the following list of sick-calf care suggestions:
Ruegg advised that all sick-calf care and treatment protocols be developed collaboratively with the herds veterinarian. In addition, she said antibiotics only should be administered according to the veterinarians prescribed dose, frequency, route of administration, and duration of therapy.
To help assist with early detection of sick calves which makes all care and treatment more effective the University of Kentucky has developed this helpful bulletin. It contains tips for staging the severity of illness recognizing very early symptoms and preventing diseases from occurring.
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How Do You Treat Shipping Fever In Calves
Treatment methods vary, but the majority of them include the administration of medicines that are particularly intended to treat calves with pneumonia. Antibiotics that are effective against the bacteria most typically found in lung tissue are currently used by the majority of manufacturers. It is important for farmers to understand the indications for each antibiotic so they can select drugs that will provide maximum benefit with as few negative effects as possible.
Shipping fever is a term used to describe symptoms similar to those seen with pneumonia in adultsârapid breathing, cold sweat, poor appetite, and diarrheaâthat are caused by problems with the lungs of young animals that have been transported long distances without adequate food or water. The term “shipping fever” came into use in the 1930s when livestock carriers began transporting cattle from feedlots in Kansas and Oklahoma to meatpacking plants in Chicago. Because these trucks had no heaters, animals that arrived in poor health were at risk of dying before they could be sold or processed into meat.
Cattle transport within Canada is now regulated by the Canadian Council of Animal Care , which sets standards for animal care during transportation. These standards cover everything from the type of vehicle used for moving animals to the length of time they can be held in confinement. They also address issues such as ventilation, water supply, resting periods, and more.
About Article Author
Top Tips For Calf Pneumonia Vaccination
Over two million calves in Ireland every year¹, but unfortunately far too many fail to reach adulthood because of disease. The incidence rate of calf pneumonia is approximately 20%¹.
Calf pneumonia is the greatest single cause of morbidity and mortality in cattle in Ireland responsible for 32% of deaths in this age group². Hence, it is a cause of major economic loss for the cattle industry.
At a farm level, these costs are in the region of 49 per dairy calf and 93 per suckler calf4.
So what makes up these costs? Surprisingly, only 40% is represented by vets fees and medicines. The remaining 60% results primarily from mortality, reduced growth rates and reduced lifetime performance.
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Nutritional And Environmental Factors In Immunity
Good nutrition is absolutely essential in order for the animals immune system to function properly. Unfortunately, young calves are often fed milk at a level that does not allow them to gain weight according to their genetic potential. This deficiency in nutrient intake also prevents the immune system from receiving the necessary nutrients to mount an effective immune response against invading pathogens. Calves should receive at least 20 percent of their birthweight per day in milk in order to reach the necessary nutrient intake to grow and also maintain a healthy immune response.
We commonly see an increase in respiratory disease in calves during and after weaning. Calves are often cut back on milk suddenly and then expected to receive enough energy and protein from low-protein calf grower rations along with poor-quality forages. A weaning program needs to allow the calf to make this transition smoothly, while consuming enough nutrients to maintain a steady growth rate.
Wet straw bedding in the hutch can lead to ammonia production from bacterial growth, which irritates the respiratory tract of the calf and predisposes it to respiratory disease. This is also true in group pens, with wet sawdust, shavings and straw providing an excellent environment for bacterial growth and ammonia production.
What To Give A Cow With Pneumonia
Pneumonia is a serious respiratory infection that affects the lungs. It can be caused by a number of different viruses, bacteria, and fungi. Pneumonia can be deadly, especially in young calves. If you suspect your calf has pneumonia, it is important to seek veterinary care immediately.
There are a number of different treatment options for calves with pneumonia. The most common is antibiotics. Antibiotics can be given orally, by injection, or in the form of a nebulizer. Other treatments include oxygen therapy, IV fluids, and coupage.
If your calf is diagnosed with pneumonia, there are a few things you can do at home to help them recover. Make sure they are getting plenty of rest and are not over-exerting themselves. Make sure they have a clean, dry place to lie down. Keep them away from other animals, as they can easily spread the infection.
Give them plenty of fresh, clean water to drink. You may also want to give them an electrolyte solution to help replace lost fluids. If they are not eating, you may need to give them a liquid supplement or feed them a high-energy calf formula.
Most importantly, follow your veterinarians instructions. They will know what is best for your calf and how to best treat their pneumonia.
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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 .
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However, there are two types of immunity. One is cell mediated there are some immune cells that are very non-specific and they clean up whatever foreign material they see. This is the first part of the immune system that develops and is very important for most of the diseases the calf faces. We believe there is probably an increase in this type of immunity with early vaccination, even though we might not see a big increase in titres or antibody response. Thats more secondary. We feel that even if these calves do get exposed to the disease, they at least have good cell-mediated immunity from the vaccine. We feel this is very important for some of the viral infections anyway. This is why I feel OK about switching a couple of these herds to vaccinating at a younger age. If the calves are being branded at a later age, however, I still recommend vaccinating at branding time, he says.
It is important to work with your veterinarian, and come up with a plan based on what has worked in the past for your herd, and what diseases you have in the herd. We see some baby calf pneumonia that probably isnt Pasteurella. Its probably BRSV or some other virus, rather than bacterial. If youve worked with your veterinarian and made a diagnosis, you can be more specific about which vaccine you choose, he explains.
Keeping calves healthy is not always easy because there can be so many factors involved.
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