Pneumonia is the biggest threat to housed livestock production. Even chronic infections can lead to reduced daily liveweight gain and impaired carcase quality.
Pneumonia leads to infected lobes within the lungs of infected animals, even if there are no clinical symptoms.
Trials assessed the impact of numbers of affected lobes post-mortem and the effect on daily liveweight gain and the impact of infection on average carcase prices.
The results show that even light infections reduced liveweight gain, while more serious infections reduced payment premiums.
In addition to pneumonia there are a range of other respiratory diseases mainly caused by viruses, including:
- respiratory syncytial virus (RSV)
- parainfluenza type 3 (PI3) virus
- infectious bovine rhinotracheitis (IBR) virus
Severity can be increased by secondary infections of bacteria and myoplasma.
The viruses can spread in droplets of water over considerable distances.
Where infections occur, consult your vet for advice on appropriate antibiotics.
External parasites, such as lice, spread more readily between housed cattle. In addition, the denser winter coat and cooler weather favour lice survival.
Lice cause skin irritation leading to biting, scratching and rubbing which can lead to damage to building fabric. While the effect on production and growth rates is subject to debate, the potential reduction in the value of hides is very costly to the leather industry.
Most insecticides will deal with adult or nymph lice. However, it is important to distinguish if infestations are of sucking or biting lice before choosing a treatment.