Bovine respiratory disease (or calf pneumonia) is one of the biggest threats to the beef industry, with the cost to the UK cattle industry estimated at around £80 million per annum.1 If it takes hold on a farm, the cost implications have been estimated at around £82 per suckler calf.2
Respiratory disease can range from full blown clinical disease through to underlying and sometimes unseen respiratory problems. However, although, the disease may be mild or even not show at all, damage to the respiratory tract can limit growth rates and reduce performance.
In one study, nearly 500 calves were monitored over 15 months from birth to slaughter.3 Although 35% of the calves had been diagnosed and treated for pneumonia, 72% were found to have lung damage at slaughter. Outwardly these calves appeared healthy but suffered lowered growth rates compared to calves with healthy lungs.
References: 1.BARRETT D.C (1997) Diploma in Cattle Health and Production Thesis RCVS. 2. Andrews A.H. (2000) Catt le Practice vol 8 Part 2: 109-114. 3. Wittum T.E. et al, (1996) JAVMA Vol 29, No. 4: 814-818.
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