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2 Ways to Help Minimize Weaning Stress and BRD

September 27, 2019
POSTED BY: Matt Boyle | DVM | Dairy Technical Services | Zoetis

The stresses at weaning can leave a calf susceptible to respiratory disease, but there are a couple of things you can do to help minimize the number of stressors and thus help reduce the risk for bovine respiratory disease (BRD).

  1. Make the transition smoother.

Calves need to be transitioned gradually to a new feeding program and group housing so they maintain dry matter intake to keep growing and ward off disease challenges. Help manage transition challenges through weaning by:

    • Having a well-planned management program
    • Keeping a consistent diet as they move to group housing
    • Providing adequate feeding and resting space
    • Offering clean, free-choice water
    • Avoiding overcrowded pens and keeping group sizes small
    • Grouping calves by similar age and size — manage as all-in, all-out
  1. Incorporate a pneumonia vaccination program.

Post-weaning housing and socialization challenges can open the door to respiratory problems. In addition to health management protocols, develop and assess pneumonia vaccination and control programs with your herd veterinarian based on the age of the animal, environment and best management practices. Keep in mind that:

    • INFORCE 3® respiratory vaccine that was given at birth can be boosted. Calves vaccinated before the age of 6 months should be revaccinated after 6 months of age to avoid possible antibody interference with the initial immunization.
    • ONE SHOT® BVD can help expand respiratory vaccination programs when used concurrently with INFORCE 3 to help better protect young calves and build the immunity they need prior to commingling.

With the right management plan and solutions in place, weaning doesn't have to be stressful for dairy calves or you.

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