The Not-so-Obvious Signs of Calfhood Respiratory Disease

Calves impacted by pneumonia during the first 90 days of life are more likely to experience increased age at first calving, higher incidence of dystocia and greater mortality before first calving.

"Bovine respiratory disease (BRD) is far too common on dairies," said Greg Edwards, managing veterinarian, Dairy Technical Services, Zoetis. "Detecting respiratory disease symptoms early in a calf's life can help prevent chronic infections and lead to better future lifetime productivity."

Are producers looking for the right signs to know if a calf has contracted BRD? Both the University of Wisconsin-Madison and University of California, Davis, offer scoring systems to help determine whether calves are showing clinical signs of respiratory disease, which could include:


Eye discharge


Nasal discharge


Ear droop


Head tilt




Increased breathing rate


Elevated temperature


Slow, reduced or zero milk intake during feeding


Slow to rise at feeding time


Slow to lie down after eating

Producers can use either the

UW-Madison scoring system


UC Davis scoring system

to record their calves' symptoms on a daily basis to help determine which animals are sick. Early detection and treatment with an antibiotic approved for use in calves, such as


(tulathromycin) Injectable Solution
, may reduce the risk of treatment failure to help get its health back on track.

Take the opportunity to head off the disease before it affects long-term wellness by identifying animals at high risk, such as those experiencing:






Seasonal temperature change


Introduction to new animals



Research shows control of BRD during high-risk times can improve dairy heifer growth and performance.

Vaccinate to help prevent pneumonia.

The cost to raise a heifer from birth to freshening can exceed $2,000 per head.3

Does it pay to put a calf's future at risk before she even has a chance to return her profit as a lactating cow? Producers should work with their veterinarian to set up a vaccination program for young calves. Ask him or her about introducing an intranasal vaccine, such as

INFORCE™3 respiratory vaccine, that helps protect against three major viral pathogens that cause pneumonia in dairy calves — bovine respiratory syncytial virus (BRSV), infectious bovine rhinotracheitis (IBR) virus and parainfluenza 3 (PI3) virus. Vaccines are an important part of helping the immune system fight off BRD.


DRAXXIN has a pre-slaughter withdrawal time of 18 days in cattle. Do not use in female dairy cattle 20 months of age or older. Do not use in animals known to be hypersensitive to the product.

See full Prescribing Information.