News Article

Appropriate use of antibiotics in Calf Pneumonia

Thursday, 10 November 2016 - 1:13pm

There is increasing concern over the appropriate use of antibiotics on farms. Calf pneumonia is an area in which vast improvements can be made.

The most likely agents to cause pneumonia are viruses, namely IBR, BVD, Pi3 and RSV. Invasion of one or more of these viruses allows secondary bacterial infections to proliferate i.e. Mycoplasma bovis, Pastuerella, Mannheimia and Haemophilus. These secondary bacterial infections can be treated using antibiotics.

The lungs take 10-14 days to heal, therefore a treatment course should last this length of time, even if the animal appears clinically better after just a few days.  A single treatment is unlikely to clear all bacteria (depending on antibiotic choice).  If you do not finish a course or you allow a gap in treatment, the remaining bacteria could be drug resistant.  This means you might find your animal is untreatable.

Suggested treatments:

  1. Hexasol (duration of action = 5 days)

  2. Engemycin LA (duration of action = 3 days)

  3. Nuflor/Resflor (duration of action = 4 days if given under the skin)

If using Engemycin LA or Nuflor, giving a dose of Metacam concurrently is recommended.

Draxxin and Zactran are antibiotics that are labelled ‘critically important’ and should be reserved for second and third line treatment only.

As always, prevention is better than cure. Stress, environment, stocking density, buying in policy and nutrition can all be causative. For further information on pneumonia, please see our factsheet on Calf Pneumonia.

Vaccination is another element used to significantly reduce pneumonia rates. The best vaccine to use on your farm depends heavily on when your calves are likely to develop disease, vaccines already in use on your farm and the agent likely to be causing pneumonia. However, vaccination does not replace good management.

To discuss any aspect of calf rearing, from nutrition to housing assessment, please contact the practice and speak to a farm vet - 01363 772860.

To find out how your pneumonia antibiotic spend compares to others, please come along to our free client evening on November 24th at 7pm - please call to book your place.