Take Action to Control Pneumonia Risk in Cattle This Autumn Season

UK - Pneumonia is one of the most significant diseases affecting beef production, costing the UK cattle industry an estimated £50 million each year, according to levy board AHDB Beef and Lamb.
calendar icon 10 October 2016
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It is the most common reason for deaths and poor performance in young cattle from weaning to ten months of age.

Cattle succumb to pneumonia when disease pressure overcomes their immune system. Research has shown that severe lung damage caused by pneumonia resulted in a 0.2kg per day reduction in liveweight gain from birth to slaughter in dairy crossbred calves. 

Such significant losses can be prevented by diagnosing and treating infected cattle as soon as possible.


Stress has an adverse effect on the immune system, making cattle more susceptible to disease, in particular pneumonia.

Autumn can be a particularly stressful time for youngstock, as it often involves stressors such as weaning, transport, mixing with other cattle, veterinary treatments and changes in environment and diet. As well as managing stress, producers should ensure that cattle are not overstocked, housing has good ventilation with no extreme temperature variation and they are provided with clean, dry bedding.


Vaccination is now commonplace across the beef industry. It is an important way of helping control pneumonia, but should not be used as a substitute for good management and environment - vaccines are less likely to work well in situations where an animal is stressed.

Producers should talk to their vet about choosing the most appropriate vaccine for their herd and production system. In order for vaccines to work effectively they must be used properly, which includes administering vaccines via the correct route, at the appropriate time and to a specified target group of animals.

Timing of vaccination is particularly important. A booster is often administered four to six weeks after the first vaccination and has an important role in ensuring immunity develops. A recent survey found that only 46 per cent of respondents administered the booster vaccination within the recommended time frame.

TheCattleSite News Desk

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