11 September 1998

Isolate new calves

ISOLATING bought-in calves could help avoid introducing new pneumonia viruses on-farm, which may undermine vaccination programmes and increase vet bills.

ADAS senior livestock consultant Elwyn Rees warns that some producers are vaccinating against pneumonia without first identifying which type is active on-farm.

Penrith-based vet Neil Frame says producers buying-in calves regularly are most at risk and may need to re-identify pneumonia strains on-farm.

Isolating calves for seven to 10 days can limit risk of introducing a new strain. Monitor some of the calves body temperature as a rise over several days indicates an illness is building up, he says.

Vaccination must be in consultation with a vet who will advise whether routine testing is worthwhile as vaccines usually protect against a single strain. Costing about £4/dose, with up to three doses/calf needed to control some pneumonias, testing to identify strain and appropriate treatment could be money well spent.

"But the need for correct stocking density, good ventilation and clean, dry bedding cannot be over-stated. Vaccination wont prevent all coughs, but it prevents death and poor-doers suffering severe lung damage," says Mr Frame. &#42