Pneumonia Prevention Points
Building a robust immune system as always begins with colostrum. Fifty percent of all calf deaths are caused by poor colostrum management! So ten percent of body weight with in the first six hours is vitally important with a subsequent feed within 12 hours. All feed within the first 24 hours of life should be good quality colostrum.
Where possible the calf should be fed transition milk for up to seven days. This could be from subsequent milkings from the cow or a 50:50 mix of colostrum and milk replacer.
Milk Replacer/Whole Milk
This needs to be meeting the additional energy requirements of cold or fluctuating temperatures, especially in calves under three weeks where milk is their only energy source. This can be achieved through a higher energy density powder or increasing the litres fed. When using a milk replacer it’s also worth looking at the level of vitamin E as this plays a role in immune function.
Bedding should be clean and dry and ideally deep enough for young calves to nest in – drainage plays a big part in maintaining drier bedding. Placing bales in larger pens can be beneficial to allow calves to manage where they position themselves. Fresh air should be available just above the calves whilst avoiding draughts at calf level. Avoid high stocking rates where possible.
Some stress is inevitable but reduce it where you can. Disbudding, weaning, changes in group, changes in diet etc should all be done separately. For example keep calves on the same starter ration and straw as they were used to pre-weaning for a week before gradually changes to a post weaning diet.
Talk to your vet about identifying the strains causing your pneumonia problem and see if you can vaccinate against it in future.