Calf Pneumonia Affects Future Milk Yields

GLOBAL - Calf pneumonia can have an impact on future milk yield according to research unveiled at a recent conference.
calendar icon 3 October 2011
clock icon 2 minute read

The work, present by AFBI Heifer and Sheep Unit Manager Andrew Brown at the National Youngstock Conference this summer, showed that calves which suffered from pneumonia during the pre-weaning phase went on to have significantly reduced milk yields compared to those that had no signs of disease1.

At first lactation the reduction in yield was around four per cent, while even greater reductions of around eight per cent occurred at the second lactation.

Calves that suffered more than one episode of pneumonia during the pre-weaning phase are likely to incur even greater yield losses, with financial costs of up to £297 calculated over the two lactations (based on lost milk production).

Fiona MacGillivray, Veterinary Adviser at Merial Animal Health, said: “We have known for some time that calf pneumonia can affect cattle for the rest of their lives. Cattle have a much smaller lung capacity relative to bodyweight ratio compared to, for instance, humans or horses, so anything that reduces this can have a drastic effect on their future health and performance. This research shows the clear economic consequences for dairy cows of an early bout of pneumonia."

“It is critical to ensure that action is taken to try and prevent pneumonia in housed calves. Best practice includes provision of good ventilation, fresh dry bedding, regular cleaning and avoiding overstocking; these are all ways to reduce the level of bugs in the environment responsible for causing pneumonia."

"If you do get an outbreak of disease, it’s important to consult your vet and make sure the calves get a fast-acting antibiotic which can protect against re-infection; this will help to mitigate the long-term effects of pneumonia. Damaged lung tissue can take up to 10 days to repair so using a single shot antibiotic which provides protection during this repair phase can speed up recovery times.”

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