Best Practice Guide Launched To Help Farmers Spot Early Warning Signs Of Costly Calf Pneumonia

A new practical control guide for respiratory disease in cattle can help UK farmers avoid economic losses as a result of the disease, which is estimated to cost the UK cattle industry £80 million annually.


Rebecca Laborne, Large Animal Product Manager for Norbrook says the company’s new Best Practice Guide for the control of Bovine Respiratory Disease (BRD) provides farmers with practical advice on herd management.

“Bovine Respiratory Disease is hard to detect in its early stages and is often only spotted during housing.  Most cases of the disease are seen in young stock; as such, the BRD guide highlights the symptoms in calves which will assist farmers in spotting the early signs of pneumonia.”  

BRD affects the lungs and airways of cattle and most often refers to infections of the lung tissue, be they bacterial or viral, or a mixture. An outbreak of calf pneumonia could cost farmers an average of £500 or more in cases of calf mortalities.

Steph Small BVSc MRCVS, Veterinary Advisor for Norbrook, says calves severely affected with pneumonia usually display signs of respiratory distress, nasal discharge, coughing, pain and in some cases death.  However, earlier more subtle signs such as loss of appetite, weight loss or failure to gain weight, high temperature and rapid or shallow breathing are often difficult to link specifically to BRD, but are important parameters to monitor in order to intervene early in the course of disease.

“The BRD guide provides an insight into several approaches for controlling or preventing respiratory disease in cattle. The important thing to remember is that calf pneumonia is a multifactorial disease and farmers should consider a holistic approach, instead of trying to isolate single elements.

“Farmers could incur significant losses as a result of BRD, which could lead to calf losses and in cases of pneumonia in adult cattle, could reduce fertility and productivity.”

The Best Practice Guide for the control of Bovine Respiratory Disease is available free from local veterinary surgeons .