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3 Basics for Treating Calfhood Respiratory Disease

April 26, 2021
POSTED BY: Doug Hammon | DVM, PhD | Managing Veterinarian | Dairy Technical Services | Zoetis

Serious disease, lifelong impact — bovine respiratory disease (BRD) is one of the leading health concerns impacting heifer calves on dairies, even on the best-managed operations. Be armed with these three facts about BRD, and know the signs to watch for should BRD find its way into your herd.

Know the facts about BRD

  1. Respiratory conditions can have a lifelong impact on heifer calves.1,2
    • Heifer calves impacted by pneumonia during the first 90 days of life are more likely to experience older age at first calving, higher incidence of dystocia, lower milk production and lower survival to first calving.1
    • Respiratory disease also can reduce average daily gain of heifer calves, which can lead to reproductive challenges.2
  1. Identifying BRD symptoms early is crucial.
    • By immediately detecting early signs of this detrimental disease, you can improve the chances of preventing chronic infections for better future lifetime productivity.
  1. Early treatment can reduce the impact of respiratory disease.
    • If you spot calfhood respiratory disease symptoms in your heifer calves, treat them before the disease progresses. This will help protect your herd’s health, as well as your operation’s bottom line. Look to the research-supported treatment from Zoetis that dairy producers have trusted for years — DRAXXIN® (tulathromycin injection) Injectable Solution.
    • DRAXXIN offers an effective first-BRD treatment response3-5 and treats all four major pathogenic causes associated with calfhood BRD: Mycoplasma bovis, Mannheimia haemolytica, Pasteurella multocida and Histophilus somni in suckling and veal calves. Remember to work closely with your veterinarian to ensure effective, responsible antibiotic use.

Know the symptoms of BRD

To best combat BRD risks, keep an eye out and an ear to the ground every day when walking through the barn. Watch and listen for common BRD symptoms calves may demonstrate — symptoms such as:

  • Eye discharge
  • Nasal discharge
  • Ear droop
  • Head tilt
  • Cough
  • Increased breathing rate
  • Elevated temperature
  • Slow, reduced or zero milk intake during feeding
  • Slow to rise at feeding time
  • Slow to lie down after eating

When the cost to raise one heifer from birth to freshening averages between $1,860 and $2,263, can you afford to take a chance on BRD?6-7

Ask your veterinarian about controlling and treating calfhood respiratory disease using DRAXXIN, a solution from Zoetis that is backed by clinical performance and unmatched service and support, such as the Calf and Heifer Risk Assessment. Speak with your veterinarian or Zoetis representative today to learn more.

IMPORTANT SAFETY INFORMATION: DRAXXIN has a pre-slaughter withdrawal time of 18 days in cattle. Do not use in female dairy cattle 20 months of age or older. Do not use in animals known to be hypersensitive to the product. See full Prescribing Information, here.

1 Stanton AL, Kelton DF, LeBlanc SJ, Wormuth J, Leslie KE. The effect of respiratory disease and a preventative antibiotic treatment on growth, survival, age at first calving, and milk production of dairy heifers. J Dairy Sci. 2012;95(9):4950-4960.

 2 A. L. Stanton ,D. F. Kelton , S. J. LeBlanc ,S. T. Millman ,† J. Wormuth ,‡ R. T. Dingwell , and K. E. Leslie. The effect of treatment with long-acting antibiotic at postweaning movement on respiratory disease and on growth in commerical dairy calves. 2010 J Dairy Sci. 93 :574–581

3 Skogerboe TL, Rooney KA, Nutsch RG, Weigel DJ, Gajewski K, Kilgore WR. Comparative efficacy of tulathromycin versus florfenicol and tilmicosin against undifferentiated bovine respiratory disease in feedlot cattle. Vet Ther. 2005;6(2):180-196.

 4 Nutsch RG, Skogerboe TL, Rooney KA, Weigel DJ, Gajewski K, Lechtenberg KF. Comparative efficacy of tulathromycin, tilmicosin, and florfenicol in the treatment of bovine respiratory disease in stocker cattle. Vet Ther. 2005;6(2):167-179.

5 Rooney KA, Nutsch RG, Skogerboe TL, Weigel DJ, Gajewski K, Kilgore WR. Efficacy of tulathromycin compared with tilmicosin and florfenicol for the control of respiratory disease in cattle at high risk of developing bovine respiratory disease. Vet Ther. 2005;6(2):154-166.

Overton M, Dhuyvetter KC. Economic considerations regarding the raising of dairy replacement heifers. In: Beede D, ed. Large Dairy Herd Management. 3rd ed. Champaign, IL: American Dairy Science Association, 2017;457-474.

 Tranel L. What’s It Cost to Raise Heifers? Accessed April 7, 2021. 

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