12 January 1996

Pneumonia around despite freeze

CALF rearers should not drop their guard against pneumonia in the misguided belief that the recent cold snap killed causal bacteria and viruses.

In fact as its heats up again producers should be ready for new outbreaks, says Graham Baird, a veterinary investigation officer at St Boswells, Roxburghshire.

If calves succumb to pneumonia they should be separated from their peers as soon as possible, says Mr Baird.

This not only decreases the potential for disease spread but also cuts stress on sick calves.

"Calves with pneumonia react poorly to handling. Keeping affected individuals together in a separate group makes checking and re-treatment much easier for both farmer and patient," he says.

The chosen site should be well ventilated but free from draughts. Deep bedding provides a warm, comfortable area to lie in.

Sick animals must be encouraged to eat, so food and water should be available ad lib, he says. And hay should be of good quality and dust free.

Keep stress to a minimum by refraining from jobs such as de-horning until calves have recovered fully.

"Remember the well nursed calf has a much better chance of recovery and return to productive growth after illness than the one which is jabbed with antibiotic and left to fend for itself. A little tender loving care at an early stage may save you considerable £s later," he says.