An 18 degrees C temperature swing from -4 to +14 over four days in early January prompts a reminder to cattle farmers to be extra vigilant for respiratory disease aided by wide temperature variation over short periods.
Vet Carolyn Hogan from Zoetis says the Met Office also reported 10 air frost days for the UK in December, despite an average daily maximum for the month of +7.3C. Air frost is defined as air temperature below zero C at one metre or more above ground.
“Farmers who prefer action to prevent health problems before they occur still have time to protect cattle through pneumonia vaccination if they haven’t been done already,” says Ms Hogan. “Pneumonia is most often started by a viral infection, and there is a wealth of serology evidence which tells us that RSV and Para-Influenza 3 are the two viruses most commonly identified on farm.
“Against these pathogens, a one-dose up-the-nose vaccine is licensed for use in cattle from nine days of age onwards, offering up to 12 weeks duration of immunity.”
For an indication of what may be at stake, a recent review of published research found that a pneumonia-free rearing period can be worth £243/head in suckler calves and £1,008/head in dairy heifers. In suckler calves, this sum arises from treatment costs, delayed finish and carcase downgrade. In dairy heifers, treatment costs, later age at first calving, reduced first and second lactation yields, and shorter lifetimes compared with healthy ones account for the losses over the animal’s lifetime.
To help more farmers realise the performance gains available from minimising respiratory disease, both severe and low grade, during winter housing, Zoetis vets have created a five-point-plan: 1) Improve building function. 2) Manage grouping and group size. 3) Vaccination and parasite protection. 4) Monitor growth rates. 5) Involve your vet from the outset.
Two detailed and practical Controlling Respiratory Disease booklets, one beef and the other dairy, are also available from the Zoetis website:
Source - Red Rock Publicity