During the pre-fresh transition period, we commonly associate disease threats with metritis, milk fever and ketosis. However, respiratory disease challenges need just as much attention in your pre-fresh groups as they do in the calf barn.

Pre-fresh heifers and cows can easily fall victim to bovine respiratory syncytial virus (BRSV) infections because of their suppressed immune systems and exposure to environmental stressors.

The five weeks prior to freshening can be especially taxing on the immune systems of pre-fresh cows, explained Greg Edwards, DVM, senior veterinarian, Zoetis Dairy Technical Services. This is when pre-fresh cows and heifers start preparing for freshening and producing colostrum for their calves, he said.

This change in their immunity, coupled with their changing lactation system, may weaken their ability to respond to disease exposure.

“We need to think beyond common fresh cow diseases and help protect pre-fresh heifers and cows against respiratory diseases to help maximize health during transition,” Dr. Edwards advised. He recommends these pre-fresh management tips:

1) Build immunity

  • Vaccinate to help keep cows in peak condition for immune responses.
  • Use INFORCE™ 3 respiratory vaccine, which is demonstrated to be effective against respiratory disease caused by infectious bovine rhinotracheitis (IBR) virus, parainfluenza 3 (PI3) virus, and BRSV, as part of a complete vaccination program.

2) Nutrition supports health and immunity

  • Encourage dry matter intake with ample feed bunk space that gives each cow feed access at the same time.
  • Let cows drink when they want and how they want by ensuring easy access to fresh water at all times.

3) Control environmental conditions

  • Give cows a clean, dry resting space that accommodates their large, pre-fresh bodies.
  • Protect cows from the elements.
  • Help cows maintain body temperature with a constant exchange of fresh outside air.

“Maintain pre-fresh health and wellness to help prepare heifers and cows for a successful next lactation,” Dr. Edwards advised. “Better health and maximized immunity can help provide a greater return on investment through increased milk production and lower treatment and labor costs during lactation.”

Study shows effective protection

New evidence, based on a real-world field study, suggests that vaccinating adult cattle against BRSV with INFORCE 3 respiratory vaccine prior to freshening helps reduce the risk of BRSV infection during lactation.1 INFORCE 3 is labeled to help protect against BRSV, IBR virus and PI3 virus.

For this study, 849 Holstein dairy cattle were enrolled during a four-month period between December and March. Cows were moved to the close-up pen and vaccinated approximately 21 days prior to calving with either INFORCE 3 or TSV-2®, a similar vaccine labeled to help protect against IBR and PI3 but not BRSV.

The findings revealed that cows vaccinated with INFORCE 3 prior to freshening had higher production and income. INFORCE 3 vaccinates produced approximately 205 pounds more milk per cow per lactation and generated a $36 greater income per head when compared with the TSV-2 group.1

Visit to learn more BRD protection for your pre-fresh cows.

About Zoetis

Zoetis (zō-EH-tis) is the leading animal health company, dedicated to supporting customers and businesses focused on raising and caring for livestock and companion animals. Building on a 60-year history as the animal health business of Pfizer Inc., Zoetis discovers, develops, manufactures and markets veterinary vaccines and medicines, complemented by diagnostic products and genetic tests and supported by a range of services. The company generated annual revenues of $4.3 billion in 2012. It has more than 9,300 employees worldwide and a local presence in approximately 70 countries, including 29 manufacturing facilities in 11 countries. Its products serve veterinarians, livestock producers and people who raise and care for livestock and companion animals in 120 countries. For more information, visit

For further information, Contact:

Becky Lambert

Kristina Hopkins
Bader Rutter & Associates

1 Data on file, Study Report No. 10PETINF01, Zoetis, Inc.



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