The not-so-subtle signs of calfhood respiratory disease

The not-so-obvious signs of calfhood respiratory disease

March 31, 2016
POSTED BY: Greg Edwards | DVM | Managing Veterinarian | Dairy Technical Services | Zoetis

Calves impacted by pneumonia during the first 90 days of life are more likely to experience increased age at first calving, higher incidence of dystocia, lower milk production and greater mortality before first calving.1

Bovine respiratory disease (BRD) is far too common on dairies, but detecting respiratory disease symptoms early in a calf’s life can help prevent chronic infections and lead to better future lifetime productivity.

Are you looking for the right signs to know if a calf has contracted BRD? Both the University of Wisconsin-Madison and University of California, Davis offer scoring systems to help determine if your calf is showing clinical signs of respiratory disease. These symptoms could include:

  • 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

You can use either the UW-Madison scoring system or UC Davis scoring system to record your calves’ symptoms on a daily basis to help determine which animals are sick. Early detection and treatment with an antibiotic approved for use in calves, such as DRAXXIN® (tulathromycin) Injectable Solution, may reduce the risk of treatment failure to help get its health back on track.                               

Remember to always work with your veterinarian to ensure effective and responsible antibiotic use. Preventing violative residues to help protect consumer confidence lies in your hands.

The cost to raise a heifer from birth to freshening can exceed $2,000 per head.2 Does it pay to put a calf’s future at risk before she even has a chance to return her profit as a lactating cow? Work with your veterinarian to implement INFORCE 3 respiratory vaccine into your vaccination program for calves to help boost respiratory disease prevention efforts against bovine respiratory syncytial virus (BRSV), infectious bovine rhinotracheitis (IBR) virus and parainfluenza 3 (PI3) virus from day one.  

IMPORTANT SAFETY INFORMATION FOR DRAXXIN: DRAXXIN has a pre-slaughter withdrawal time of 18 days. 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.

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 Cornell University, College of Agriculture and Life Sciences. Dairy Replacement Programs: Costs & Analysis 3rd Quarter 2012. https://ecommons.cornell.edu/bitstream/handle/1813/36889/DairyReplaceCost12-3.pdf. Updated February 2014. Accessed February 22, 2016.

DRX-00097

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