It's a dreaded ailment and can be deadly if not treated properly. As the weather gets a little better its important to remember that your young calves are still in danger of contracting pneumonia. Here are some important things to remember with the disease in dairy calves.
Pneumonia in dairy calves is often referred to as a ‘multifactorial disease’ and early diagnosis and treatment is essential for a successful outcome.
Pneumonia in dairy calves is often referred to as a ‘multifactorial disease’. Besides infectious agents, environmental and management factors may be responsible for the outbreak of disease.
Early diagnosis and treatment of pneumonia is essential for a successful outcome.
Symptoms include increased respiratory rate, dullness, reduced feed intake, discharge from the nose/eyes and high temperature. When pus-like nasal discharge or severe respiratory distress is noted the disease may be advanced. Careful observation of calves at a time when they are resting (not at feeding time) is required to pick up these signs.
Viruses associated with pneumonia include IBR, RSV and PI3; bacteria include Mannheimia haemolytica and Pasteurella multocida. Veterinary advice should be sought on the treatment and control of pneumonia. The most important factor for a successful outcome is to start treatment very early in the course of the disease and to treat for long enough; otherwise the calf may relapse with recurrent bouts of pneumonia.
Prevention of pneumonia is better than treating outbreaks. Improve the resistance of calves by ensuring good colostrum intake and nutrition, controlling scour and avoiding stress. If vaccination is prescribed ensure vaccines are stored and used as recommended.
Periods of high-risk for pneumonia outbreaks are usually stressful periods for calves, such as after grouping or mixing of groups, weaning, or unfavourable weather.
No matter what system is used for calf housing, it is important that calves always have access to plenty of fresh air, without draughts, and a good, dry, well-bedded lying area.
Check the ventilation in pens by crouching to the calf level. If there is a smell of ammonia, it is probably not well ventilated. One of the biggest risks for calves is sharing airspace with adult animals. Don’t put ill or stunted older calves back into a group of young calves.
Additonal info on this report from Animal health Ireland.