Bovis ISSN 2398-2993

Calf pneumonia (Farmer Factsheet)

Contributor(s): XLVets, Vetstream Ltd , Amy Jennings

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  • Pneumonia is the term used to describe inflammation of the lung tissue and airways.
  • This inflammation reduces the animal's ability to breathe efficiently. 
  • Whilst the infectious causes are viral and bacterial, the term bovine respiratory disease complex illustrates that the disease is multi-factorial. Housing, bedding, ventilation and other husbandry and management factors all play a part (see below).
  • Pneumonia is estimated to cost the UK cattle industry £80 million annually.
  • The immediate expense of treatment is tangible, but the impact on food intakes, food conversion efficiency and live weight gain are often overlooked. Outwardly healthy in-contact animals will also be affected: for every animal showing symptoms it is likely that two more may have diseased lungs.
  • It has been estimated that a dairy heifer calf affected by pneumonia will, on average, suffer a two-week delay to first service and 2 – 4% reduction in yield in her first lactation; in beef animals, carcase quality will be reduced.
  • In reality, the loss of future performance is the biggest cost of pneumonia.
Image courtesy of Andrew Grist
Image shows a bovine lung from an animal suffering with pneumonia

Symptoms

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Vaccination

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Treatment

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Casual factors include

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Investigation

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Key points

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