Preventing respiratory disease in calves is crucial to long-term performance.
Pneumonia is one of the leading causes of mortality in young dairy calves and heifers,1 but producers may not realize that respiratory disease also causes ongoing losses in animals that survive. That’s why disease prevention in young animals is so important, says Doug Braun, DVM, Pfizer Animal Health Dairy Veterinary Operations.
“Heifers affected by respiratory disease may be prone to reductions in performance throughout their lives,” Dr. Braun says. “This includes reduction in growth rates, delays in breeding and first calving, and lower milk production. Preventing respiratory disease in calves is crucial to help long-term performance.”
With cooler weather approaching, Dr. Braun advises producers to focus on three aspects of dairy management to help prevent pneumonia problems this fall and winter.
1. Proper nutrition — Nutrition is the foundation for disease protection and starts with ensuring adequate passive transfer through the feeding of valuable colostrum to newborns. Producers are encouraged to ensure their calves are fed a diet that provides enough nutrients to allow for disease prevention as well as growth. This is one area where additional investment almost always pays significant returns. Work closely with your nutritionist or veterinarian to optimize the health and performance potential of your calves.
2. Clean and dry environment — Environment plays an important role in helping prevent respiratory disease. Calves need a clean and dry place to rest with adequate bedding to allow nesting. Ventilation systems must be able to provide fresh air at nose level while not causing a draft.
3. Stimulated immunity — Administer vaccinations to stimulate the immune system and help prevent respiratory disease. Producers can provide disease protection against pneumonia-causing agents, including bovine respiratory syncytial virus (BRSV), by stimulating mucosal immunity through an intranasal vaccine.
“Producers should work with their veterinarians to assess the morbidity rate due to respiratory disease and choose appropriate prevention measures,” Dr. Braun says. “For dairies with a high rate of pneumonia in young animals, administration of an intranasal vaccine such as INFORCE™ 3 at birth in tandem with adequate colostrum can help provide protection against disease-causing agents.”
1 Dairy 2007 Part II: Changes in the U.S. Dairy Cattle Industry, 1991-2007. National Animal Health Monitoring Service, U.S. Department of Agriculture. Available at: nahms.aphis.usda.gov/dairy/index.htm. Accessed August 26, 2010.
Pfizer Animal Health, a business of Pfizer Inc., is a world leader in discovering and developing innovative animal vaccines and prescription medicines, investing an estimated $300 million annually in animal health product research and development. For more information about how Pfizer Animal Health works to ensure a safe, sustainable global food supply from healthy livestock, fish and poultry; or helps companion animals and horses to live longer, healthier lives, visit www.PfizerAH.com