19 August 1997

Reduced pneumonia risk for grass-weaned calves

SUCKLER producers should consider weaning calves at grass to reduce risk of pneumonia outbreaks at housing.

So says George Caldow, senior officer at SACs St Boswells veterinary investigation centre, Rox-burghshire.

"Weaning calves onto grass is essential, and ensures weaning is completed smoothly. Good producers in this area have been doing it successfully for a number of years now, and it will reduce pneumonia risk."

Kelso vet Robert Anderson says cows should be housed after weaning, while calves are turned back out to grass.

"If calves are adequately creep fed pre-weaning they wont be depedent on their mothers, taking milk only for comfort. Abrupt weaning such at this doesnt appear to cause concern."

Phil Scott of Edinburghs Dick Vet field station warns that bought-in suckled calves should be turned out after arrival home to reduce pneumonia risk.

Such calves should be outside, or in an open yard for at least a week before housing. "This will allow them to settle," says Dr Scott.

He also says that calves which have not been wormed on a staged programme could now be treated. "Dosing calves now with an avermectin product will protect against lungworm and type one Ostertagia."

Where there have been pneumonia concerns in previous years, Mr Caldow advises producers to employ a specialist to review housing and identify concerns. "Checking ventilation and space allowances will not prevent pneumonia, but will help reduce risks."

&#8226 Some RSV vaccines will protect calves in the presence of maternal antibodies, and not as stated in Livestock, Sept 5, 1997.n