Calf pneumonia represents a threat to calf health, welfare and farm profitability. Uncontrolled, pneumonia can have a substantial and wide ranging impact on a dairy enterprise.

Mortality in replacement heifers poses a huge financial loss. A UK study showed that calf pneumonia is the biggest known cause of mortality in calves aged 1 – 6 months, and a major contributor to the losses that see an average of 14.5% of live born dairy heifers failing to reach their first lactation.6

Calf pneumonia impacts heavily on production costs. The average cost of a calf pneumonia outbreak has been calculated as a minimum of £43.25 per sick calf7. Daily liveweight gains, targeted at 0.8 kg/day, can drop as low as 0.4 kg/day after an episode of respiratory disease. This growth check directly increases production costs, and can result in reduction in lifetime productivity. impact of calf pneumonia on a dairy enterprise


  1. Brickell, J.S., McGowan, M.M., Pfeiffer, D.U., Wathes, D.C. (2009) Mortality in Holstein-Friesian calves and replacement heifers, in relation to body-weight and IGF-1 concentration, on 19 farms in England. Animal 3, 1175–1182
  2. Andrews A.H. (2000) Calf pneumonia costs. Cattle Practice Vol 8 Part 2, 109-114

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What is calf pneumonia?

What is calf pneumonia?

Bovine respiratory disease, or calf pneumonia as it is more commonly known, is the result of a complex interaction between viral and bacterial pathogens, environmental stress factors and the animal’s own resilience to disease. Calf pneumonia causes inflammation and...

Pneumonia effect on calves?

Pneumonia effect on calves?

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...

Minimising effects of calf pneumonia?

Minimising effects of calf pneumonia?

Developing monitoring strategies to identify cases early in the course of disease is critical. Early detection, diagnosis and treatment of calf pneumonia have recognised benefits:5 Improved response to treatment and quicker resolution of clinical signs Reduction in...

Impact of calf pneumonia for beef calves

Impact of calf pneumonia for beef calves

Calf pneumonia represents a threat to calf health, welfare and farm profitability and, as a consequence, has a substantial impact on a beef enterprise. Immediate impacts include high vet fees and medicine costs plus failure to reach growth targets. Extra costs of...

Managing calf pneumonia

Managing calf pneumonia

Calf pneumonia is multifactorial and a number of management factors can contribute to the incidence of disease; a stressed, compromised calf will be at greater risk of infection by circulating viruses and bacteria. The risk of calf pneumonia can never be completely...

Why vaccinate against calf pneumonia?

Why vaccinate against calf pneumonia?

Vaccination of calf pneumonia in young and growing animals is a cost-effective method when implemented as part of a pneumonia control plan which addresses other environmental and management factors that contribute to disease. Selecting a vaccine which contains...

Vaccination Top Tips

Vaccination Top Tips

✔ Vaccine selection: A vaccine protocol should be developed with a vet and take in to account the specific features and risks of the production system, history of disease and diagnostic test results. ✔ Calf health status: Resilience to disease and vaccine efficacy...

Dairy Youngstock Checklist

Dairy Youngstock Checklist

The first 24 hours of life ✔ Have clear protocols in place for the dam and newborn calf ✔ Set up a new system to allow ease of handling of dam and new born calf ✔ Test colostrum and only store/feed the best ✔ Focus on cleanliness and consistency of management...

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