Stress, resulting from management practices, sub-optimal nutrition and, in young calves, poor immunity as a result of inadequate colostrum intake, all increase susceptibility to calf pneumonia. Viruses are often the initial invader. They cause lung damage that soon allows secondary bacterial infections to take hold. Clinical signs of calf pneumonia include:

  • A temperature of greater than 39.5oC
  • Increased breathing rate and effort
  • Coughing
  • A nasal discharge which is initially clear and watery, but becomes thick and pus-like as the disease progresses

During the early stages of infection calf pneumonia can be difficult to detect. An elevated temperature is the first sign of disease and typically occurs 12-72 hours before detectable clinical signs appear4


  1. Wolfger et al. (2015) A Systematic Review of Bovine Respiratory Disease Diagnosis Focused on Diagnostic Confirmation, Early Detection, and Prediction of Unfavorable Outcomes in Feedlot Cattle. Veterinary Clinics of North America Food Animal 31, 351–365

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