Calf Pneumonia

Pneumonia in the young beef calf can have a long term impact on overall lifetime productivity. Anything that hinders nutrition and health in the young calf can have long term detrimental effects which contribute to a loss in production and farm profitability.

According to the 2014 All Island Disease Surveillance report 47% of all respiratory disease diagnoses in Irish Veterianry labs were in calves less than 10 weeks of age, which indicates that these young calves are the animals that are most susceptible to pneumonia.

Pneumonia in beef animals can result in:

  • An average cost of €931 per case at time of disease when considering treatment costs, time, labour etc.
  • 72g reduction in daily live weight gain for moderate cases of pneumonia2 = This is equivalent to a 22kg loss over 10 months
  • 202g reduction in daily live weight gain for severe cases of pneumonia2 = This is equivalent to a 61kg loss over 10 months

Expand All
  • A study by Tony Andrews involved an investigation into the cost of twelve outbreaks of pneumonia (eight dairy-bred herds and four suckler herds) as they occurred on farm. The pneumonia outbreaks, on ordinary commercial farms, were followed throughout their duration and involved all calves with apparent clinical infection, and some calves without as controls. Calves were examined and weighed at weekly intervals until five weeks after the end of the outbreak. The study took place in the winters of 1997-98 and 1998-99. Most outbreaks occurred in mild moist weather with a high humidity. The ventilation was adequate on four farms, but on the other farms it was unsatisfactory. Because of the husbandry systems used and the fact that most calves were homebred, on all farms different age groups shared the same air space. While all the suckler herds were adequately fed, six of the eight herds with dairy-bred calves had inadequate diets. Looking at the overall costs, those immediately tangible to the farmer, namely veterinary and medicine costs, came to about 40% of the total costs of an outbreak. The remaining costs, which included mortality, weight loss, extra labour and other costs were higher. In all studies, weight reductions or reduced weight gains during the outbreaks were the highest cost in both dairy and suckler herds. The second highest cost was that of medicines. When mortality occurred, it became a major cost input. In the dairy herds, costs tended to increase when theoutbreak was protracted and in the suckler herds it was more dependent on the severity of the illness. In many herds the consequences of the pneumonia outbreak were still apparent after the end of the study.

  • A study by Williams and Green in 2007 looked at the long term impact of pneumonia in beef animals.

    Moderate cases of pneumonia were defined as 3 consolidated lung lobes.

    Severe cases of pneumonia were defined as 6 consolidated lung lobes.

    From their research they showed that moderate cases of pneumonia reduced live weight gain by 72g per day, which worked out at 22kg loss over 10 months.

    In severe cases of pneumonia the was a 202g reduction in daily live weight gain which ammounted to a loss of 61kg over 10 months.

1 Andrews 2000.
2 Williams & Green 2007.

<<Back to conditions found in beef cattle