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

Pre-weaning diseases

✔ Monitor disease incidence and act on findings

✔ Work with vet to identify reasons for disease outbreaks

✔ Bed daily

✔ Clean and rest pens between calves

✔ Avoid newborn calves sharing air space with older animals

✔ Ensure adequate ventilation

✔ Consider using technologies to monitor disease


✔ Ensure moisture, fresh air, air speed and temperature are correct

✔ Less than 5% of visible flooring should be damp

✔ There should be no drafts at calf level

✔ Air should smell clean

✔ A thermometer should be in the shed to track temperature

✔ Use calf jackets when ambient temperature drops

Weaning to service age

✔ Minimise the number of management changes/tasks around weaning

✔ Calves need to consume a minimum of 2kg of concentrate a head a day at weaning

✔ Design a tailored nutrition programme at all stages to match growth requirements

✔ Track heifer growth rates throughout, including at grass

✔ Monitor grass growth and quality and supplement accordingly

✔ Work with vet to design an appropriate worming and vaccination policy


✔ Track growth from birth to calving

✔ Use a graph of growth against age to identify and address any dips in performance

✔ Heifers should double birth weight by weaning

✔ Animals should achieve average DLWG of 800g/day over the entire rearing period to calve at the target 24 months

✔ Serve heifers at 55% of mature bodyweight at 13.5 months old

✔ Heifers should calve at 24 months old at 85% of mature bodyweight

Milk feeding period

✔ Ensure consistency in milk volume, temperature and timing of feeding

✔ Provide a minimum of 800g of milk solids per calf per day during optimum environmental conditions

✔ Increase calf milk replacer rates when ambient temperatures drop

✔ Use calf jackets when ambient temperature drops

Brought in calves and stores

✔ Transportation, marketing, mixing and change of diet are all risk factors for respiratory disease

✔ Consider purchasing cattle from accredited or known sources to minimise the risk of disease being brought in

✔ Develop and implement placement protocols which minimise stress and help to reduce the introduction and spread of disease

✔ Remember that good nutrition is a key component of resilience to disease

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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 dairy calves

Impact of calf pneumonia for dairy calves

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...

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...