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Extension > Local Extension Offices > Morrison > County Agriculture Educator > Articles > Bovine Respiratory Disease: Manage for Prevention Part 2 of 2

Bovine Respiratory Disease: Manage for Prevention Part 2 of 2

University of Minnesota Extension, Stearns County News
July 15, 2015

Source:  Emily Wilmes, Extension Educator-Livestock
University of Minnesota Extension
Stearns, Benton & Morrison Counties


Bovine Respiratory Disease: Manage for Prevention
Part 2 of 2

By Emily Wilmes, University of Minnesota Extension

ST. CLOUD, Minn. (07/15/15) —Last week, I shared about managing and treating bovine respiratory disease.  BRD also goes by common names such as pneumonia, bronchial pneumonia, Fibrinous pleuropneumonia, and shipping fever.  BRD can cause permanent lung damage or even death in dairy cows.  Today, I’d like to continue the conversation and discuss ways you can prevent this disease.  First and foremost, watch for the early symptoms of BRD so you can catch it and treat it before it reaches a chronic stage.  Early symptoms include fever, soft coughing, and nasal and eye discharge that is watery, sticky and clear.

There are several environmental and management factors to consider with bovine respiratory disease.  One of the most significant factors that contribute to disease on dairy farms is overcrowding.  Close quarters aid in the quick spread of disease throughout the herd.  Another contributing factor is poor ventilation and air flow patterns.  Additionally, and the cause of many health issues for cattle, is a dirty environment.  Many organisms thrive in wet, warm conditions and when your cows are crowded and poorly ventilated, conditions can get dirty fast.  All of these factors stress the animal, which can lead to a depressed immune system and in turn can increase disease incidence.   

Thorough management can help prevent bovine respiratory disease.  Here are some quick tips:
• Prevention begins with a good cow vaccination program against specific respiratory viruses used at pre-breeding and considered again at dry-off to improve the quality of colostral antibodies. A popular vaccine choice is a 5-way viral vaccine.
• Calves should receive 4 quarts of high quality colostrum as soon as possible after birth to help build a strong immune system.
• Newborn dairy calves should be housed individually in pens or hutches and vaccinated against bacteria and respiratory viruses before being put in groups. Vaccinations should be determined by your veterinarian based on housing situations and management practices.
• Newly purchased animals should be isolated before introduction into an existing group.
• The stocking density of all facilities should be evaluated.  Consider the square footage requirements of cattle at various stages of life.
• When symptoms of disease are detected, antibiotic treatments should be administered.

As always, consult with your veterinarian when managing diseases and making decisions about treatments and vaccinations.


Emily Wilmes
Extension Educator, Ag Production Systems - Livestock
(320) 255-6169
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