Heifer raisers can incur tremendous costs attempting to prevent and control losses attributed to respiratory disease. Costs can include vaccinations, daily monitoring of sick heifers, and veterinary treatment expenses. Post weaned heifer mortality from respiratory disease was reported in the USDA NAHMS 2007 Dairy Study as the single largest cause of death reported (46.5 percent).
Management tips for consideration as they relate to calf and heifer respiratory disease:
1. Commit to observe calves and heifers for sickness. Jobs on the farm are always keeping everyone busy, but a small investment of time really watching calves and heifers for nasal discharges, coughing, shallow breathing, or elevated respiration rates will pay dividends.
2. Proper ventilation - The number one limiting nutrient in all species is air. Calves from 2-12 months of age require 60 cubic feet per minute air exchange when temperatures are in TNZ temperatures.
3. Work with your veterinarian to determine the best respiratory disease treatment protocol and follow your veterinarians' instructions.