RESULTS of a national cattle survey show calf pneumonia is prevalent on farms with 98 per cent of respondents having at least one case in the last year.
In spite of a cost to the industry of £60 million a year with a farm level cost of £43 per dairy calf and £82 per suckler calf less than 25 per cent of farmers a using calf vaccination as a preventative measure.
At the launch of its national vaccination awareness campaign, Calf Matters, at UK Dairy Day, Sioned Timothy of Merial Animal Health said: “The low numbers of farmers taking up vaccination is a concern. As an industry we must take steps to reduce antibiotic use. Calf pneumonia is a multi-factorial disease caused by a complex interaction between viruses and bacteria, management practices and the environment.
“Control strategies should address the wide range of risk factors that contribute to the disease and implementing an appropriate vaccination programme as part of this will further enhance resilience of calves to infection.
“The financial cost of calf pneumonia is well documented but there is also the impact on staff time and stress plus the long term implications on the herd.
“A heifer treated more than once for pneumonia as a calf is likely to yield 10 per cent less in its first lactation and 15 per cent less in its second lactation than one which has been free of the disease.”