Put the Pieces in Place for Pneumonia Management

Set up your youngstock for a lifetime of success

Replacement heifers are the future of every dairy operation. Your calf and heifer management program needs the right pieces to ensure the future wellness of your herd and your business. A key piece of that puzzle is pneumonia management. Pneumonia causes the second highest number of cases of illness and death in young dairy calves, behind only scours.1 Calves that do survive pneumonia are likely to face a lifetime of diminished performance.

According to Lance Fox, DVM, Cattle Technical Services with Pfizer Animal Health, research shows that replacement heifers experiencing bovine respiratory disease (BRD) in the first three months of life are more likely to experience significantly increased mortality, have reduced average daily gain, calve later than healthy herdmates and produce less milk in at least their first lactation.2

“It is important that producers work with their veterinarians to look at their calf and heifer management program and make sure they are properly managing BRD,” says Dr. Fox. “There are several steps for pneumonia management and all are interconnected — having one without the other can cause health issues.”

  • Set the stage with proper nutrition. Bolstering a calf’s immune system is important for pneumonia resistance and starts with feeding at least 4 quarts of high-quality colostrum within 2 hours of birth. An excellent colostrum feeding program is the cornerstone of healthy calf rearing and helps jump-start the immune system, better preparing it for vaccination.
  • Vaccinate to help prevent BRD. Work with your veterinarian to set up a vaccination program for your young calves. Ask him or her about introducing an intranasal vaccine that helps protect against the three major viral pathogens that cause pneumonia in dairy calves — bovine respiratory syncytial virus (BRSV), infectious bovine rhinotracheitis (IBR) virus and parainfluenza 3 (PI3) virus. Vaccines are an important part of helping the immune system fight off BRD.
  • Use strategic antibiotic control. Implementing a calf respiratory identification protocol can help you initiate treatment earlier in disease progression. Your veterinarian can help set up an antibiotic control protocol to minimize the effects of pneumonia during high risk situations, such as seasonal weather changes, overcrowding or moving to group housing.
  • Manage the environment. Utilize an all-in and all-out approach and sanitize hutches and pens between calves to limit pathogen exposure to incoming animals. Also, be sure to provide enough clean, dry bedding, especially as the weather gets colder.

Work with your herd veterinarian and nutritionist to evaluate your calf and heifer management program to ensure you are doing everything to improve the health and future productivity of your youngstock.

About Pfizer Animal Health

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 and poultry; or helps companion animals and horses to live longer, healthier lives, visit www.PfizerAH.com.

For more information, contact:

Christina Lood
Pfizer Animal Health

Laurie Underwood
Bader Rutter & Associates

1 NAHMS Dairy 2007 Part 1: Reference of Dairy Cattle Health in Management Practices in the United States, October 2007. Available at: www.aphis.usda/gov. Accessed November 2011.

2 Van Der Fels-Klerx HJ, Martin SW, Nielen M, Huirne RBM. Effects on productivity and risk factors of bovine respiratory disease in dairy heifers; a review for the Netherlands. Netherlands Journal of Agricultural Science 2002; 50: 27-45.



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