Calf Pneumonia

Pneumonia is the most common cause of death and poor performance in dairy cattle under one year of age with 14.5% of dairy heifers failing to reach their first lactation due to pneumonia.

Clinical Signs of Pneumonia in Calves

  • High Temperature – taking the temperature of any calves that have common signs is the most beneficial. A high temperature will require treatment (>39.5°C).
  • Reduction of concentrate intake
  • Not drinking
  • Dropping of the head or ears
  • Nasal discharge
  • Coughing
  • Heavy breathing


Pneumonia Prevention Points

  • Colostrum – Increasing immunity of the calf in early life by providing the calf with 10% bodyweight of clean, tested colostrum with a refractometer (>above 22% Brix value) and feeding in the first 2 hours of life will have lasting effects on the calf’s health.
  • Housing – Bedding should be clean and dry so calves can make a nest in the straw. Draughts are a direct heat loss in calf sheds, this is any wind speed above 0.5m/second at calf level.
  • Early Detection- By detecting early signs you can improve response to treatment quicker and reduce lung damage and the risk of developing chronic disease.
  • Vaccination – Talk to your vet about identifying the strains causing your pneumonia problem and see if you can vaccinate against it in future.
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