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					November 2006
Special Feature

Committed to UK Farming

Alarming number of farmers confused about the effects of the disease

Calf Pneumonia

Colostrum
Management in Dairy Calves

DRY COW NUTRITION Keenan Low Energy :
High Fibre dry cow diets

www.xlvets.co.uk

Calf Pneumonia

PREPARE
for the Annual Pneumonia Challenge
As the evenings draw in, and colder, wetter weather begins to take over, it is worth spending some time considering how well your herd will face the annual pneumonia challenge. It is time to prepare pneumonia prevention and management plans!

P

neumonia is a disease that vets always refer to as ‘multi-factorial’.This simply means that there is no one factor behind it - sometimes it is related to mixing of animals, other times poor housing conditions, perhaps it is down to a particularly high challenge by one of the main bugs, or it can be related to lower than average immunity amongst calves. This all means that it is hard to predict how big or small the threat may be in any one year. Calf Pneumonia Half of all deaths from pneumonia occur in calves under three months of age, writes Intervet vet, Rosemary Booth. What is more, she adds, the causes of the disease are viral and bacterial, meaning that waiting for an outbreak to occur and then treating it with antibiotics is not always effective and can be an expensive exercise.

The main viruses involved in calf pneumonia are RSV, PI3 and IBR. A number of different bacteria are also capable of causing pneumonia, either on their own or after viruses have already caused some damage. Of these Mannheimia (Pasteurella) haemolytica is particularly significant in the young calf.
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Pasteurella and RSV are the main threats in younger calves IBR tends to affect slightly older animals PI3 is commonly involved as a cause of pneumonia in calves at any age

This complex disease is unpredictable and involves many risk factors. A recent research project with farmers found that, when asked what the main causes of pneumonia were, 80% of the group could not name anything specific. Those who could commonly stated pasteurella as the most important bacteria.

“

Whichever type of pneumonia a herd suffers from, and at whatever age that outbreak may occur, there is no doubt that the lifetime performance of that animal will be reduced.
Ian Anderson MRCVS - Intervet

”

In a recent survey of more than 225 cattle producers over 85% recognised that a previously infected animal will be affected for the rest of its productive life. At odds with this was the fact that just over 60% of the group did not vaccinate to prevent pneumonia, and 87% of the non-vaccinating group had no intention of commencing a vaccination programme (see graph below).

Research reveals farmers confusion
on causes of calf pneumonia!
‘Whichever type of pneumonia a herd suffers from, and at whatever age that outbreak may occur, there is no doubt that the lifetime performance of that animal will be reduced. It could be that they take longer to reach finishing weight or achieve the target weight for first calving, which could affect their lifetime productive performance,’ comments Ian Anderson MRCVS of Intervet, who commissioned the research.
With so many producers seeming to rely on antibiotic therapy when an outbreak does occur, Mr Anderson points out that this approach can be expensive. ‘Fighting an outbreak with group antibiotic therapy is unpopular with the end consumer, as well as the milk or beef buyers, and it costs more than prevention! A typical course of two doses of a pneumonia vaccine costs less than £9/head, compared to antibiotic treatments costing £13-15. Some producers estimate that it costs around 60p/day to keep a calf on milk and, with two weeks added to this period for calves affected by pneumonia, you face an extra cost of £8.40 per calf for milk alone.This doesn't take the extra labour, vet time and the backlog of animals into account.’ Pneumonia is frequently referred to as a 'disease complex', as it can be caused by a number of bugs - viral and bacterial - and because factors such as ventilation, grouping and stress are also important considerations. When asked what the main causes of pneumonia were in young calves, 80% of the group could not name anything specific - see graph 2. Those who could, most commonly stated pasteurella as the most important bacteria. ‘In reality, pasteurella and RSV are the main threats in younger calves, while IBR tends to affect slightly older animals. Pasteurella is a bacteria, while RSV and IBR are viruses,’ explains Ian Anderson. ‘PI3 is another common viral cause of pneumonia in calves of any age.’ Interestingly, a recent published study of 20 outbreaks on 20 farms found that pasteurella was the most significant bacterial cause of outbreaks, while RSV was involved in half the cases.There remains only one combined viral and bacterial vaccine on the market - Bovipast® RSP, which can also be administered from two weeks of age. ‘Around 40% of the vaccine users surveyed were using or had used this vaccine, showing understanding of the very complicated nature of this disease,’ adds Ian Anderson. ‘Developing a health management protocol which, in most cases would involve vaccination, should minimise producer losses.’ Now is the time to think back to last winter and prepare pneumonia prevention and management plans for the coming housing period. Consider whether any pneumonia was a sudden and acute outbreak, or was it more chronic with animals getting sick a few at a time over a period of weeks?
Calling your local XLVet practice for a consultation to look at housing and discuss how you intend to manage stock this winter, as well as a vaccination strategy could be beneficial.

Ask the Vet, with...
Owen Atkinson
MRCVS

Farm Veterinary Surgeon Lambert, Leonard & May (Cheshire)

A member of

Question 1 After some alterations and updating, we have a new calf shed for the coming winter but, not having used it before, we want to ensure all goes well in terms of calf health and management. What are the main points to check for?
Advice Some of the obvious points, which have hopefully

been checked as the building has been adapted, are ventilation, pen design and food and water provision. In fact, some of the more traditional views on air flow through the building and the role of mechanical ventilation systems have fallen out of favour recently. Experts have found out more about the importance of plenty of fresh air (without the rain or draughts though!) so are planning air inlet, outlet and roof space systems accordingly. Adequate, but sheltered, areas that allow fresh, dry air in, and stale, warm air out are essential, but are not always that easy to get right. In addition to fresh air, space for each animal is easily overlooked, especially as stocking rates should be altered as the animals grow. In fact, as we approach autumn, it is worth checking how the building reacts to the changing weather - fog, colder nights and a bigger variation between daytime and nighttime temperatures can all affect the internal environment of a shed. Question 2 We are also considering getting our vet in to help with a calf health plan. Is it worth the investment in time and medicines to do this?
Advice In a word, yes.The practice works with our own

dairy and beef farmer clients, as well as calf rearers around the country, and it would be hard to find an example of a unit that has not shown a cost and performance benefit of a health plan and vaccination protocol. Half of all deaths from pneumonia occur in calves under three months of age, and around 40% of the financial losses associated with an outbreak are direct costs, such as spend on antibiotics or vet time.The remaining 60% is down to indirect losses, and the reduction in feed conversion ratio is probably the most significant of these. Commonly, if an outbreak is investigated, tests will show it has been caused by a combination of pathogens.The main viruses, RSV, PI3 and IBR are often what make the animal sick to start with. Bacteria such as Mannheimia (Pasteurella) haemolytica can then take hold, with serious consequences. Bovipast RSP is the only combined viral/bacterial calf pneumonia vaccine available and it is licensed for use in calves as young as two weeks old.Talking to your own vet for advice about including this in the health plan would be a good starting place.
For further information, please contact your local XLVet.

Colostrum
Management
in Dairy Calves
Failure to take in a sufficient amount of good quality colostrum is a major risk factor which can lead to death and disease in young calves. This first feed contains important antibodies or immunoglobulins necessary to provide the calf with protection from disease. The most common conditions encountered from lack of colostrum are septicaemia and diarrhoea.
It is essential that the newborn calf receives 6 pints of good quality colostrum within 6 hours of birth. Studies have shown that 32% of dairy calves failed to suck their mother within 6 hours of birth and 61% of calves left to suck their mother failed to take in adequate amounts of colostrum. The most reliable method of ensuring that a calf has ingested a sufficient volume of colostrum is to administer 6 pints of colostrum as soon as possible after birth using an oesophageal feeder. Colostrum quality is measured in terms of its immunoglobulin content which can be highly variable in dairy cattle. Higher yielding cows tend to produce poorer quality colostrum due to a dilution effect. Heifer colostrum is frequently of a lower quality as is any cow which has been pre-milked or suffered milk leakage. Freezing some good colostrum, in 6 pint amounts, is a good idea as it means there is some on standby for any calves where the quality of the colostrum is suspect. Colostrum can be stored frozen for up to a year with no loss of quality. Frozen colostrum should be thawed slowly in warm water to prevent it being damaged. The major source of pathogens for the calf is its mother. Once the colostrum has been fed removing the calf from its mother to an individual pen will reduce the risk of disease. Calf diarrhoea usually starts 5-7 days after birth because not only is there a decline in the secretion of antibodies from the calf back into the gut but there is also a reduction in the antibody levels in the mothers milk. It is possible to maintain antibody concentrations within the gut and have a significant scour prevention benefit by prolonging the feeding of colostrum. The colostrum can be stored in a lidded bin, like a plastic dustbin at room temperature where it will gradually acidify.This soured colostrum is then fed back to the calves for three weeks until the main risk period for scours has passed.The protective effect on this stored colostrum can be further improved by vaccinating the cow in late pregnancy using one of the vaccines against rotavirus, coronavirus and E coli K99 such as Rotavec-corona. Please note if you are trying to control or eradicate Johnes disease from your herd then there is the potential to spread infection by feeding pooled colostrum. Discuss with your XLVet practice about the relative risks involved.

Nutritionists working within the Keenan Rumans operation are convinced that large numbers of dairy farms have the potential to reduce the incidence of calving problems and gain financial benefits of up to £87/cow as a result.

BREAKTHROUGH
in Dry Cow Nutrition
Key to this, says Keenan, are the physical properties of a high fibre, dry cow diet which reduces the rate of milk fever, assisted calvings, retained cleansings, ketosis and displaced abomasums to well below the average incidence experienced within the UK, This is strongly supported by the results recorded on a number of farms which were feeding dry cows with measured amounts of chopped straw and milking cow ration combined in a total mixed ration. It was clearly appropriate to pass on these important findings to vets and earlier this year Keenan gave a presentation on its Hi-Fibre regime at an XL Veterinary Conference held in Walsall. Subsequently, a number of on-farm meetings incorporating training by Keenan have taken place with the Group. For example, Colin Dent, who farms at Kirkby Thore, near Penrith, recently hosted a training meeting. Colin, who milks 420 Holstein Friesians, decided last year he could not afford to repeat the disappointing milk production and low milk prices his herd realised in 2005. He made two significant changes: he changed his milk contract and bought a new Keenan 200FP diet feeder. Working together with his Keenan Rumans' nutritionist David Jacklin, the main aims for the herd were agreed - to increase income, produce more milk and improve cow health.

Keenan Low Energy : High Fibre dry cow diets
Vets visiting the farm were amongst the first to hear about significant improvements made within only a few months. In fact, due to the major changes made to dry cow feeding, margins improved by £15,200 per month. And just as importantly, about 100 cows were calved with virtually no problems - the cows cleansed well and there was just one case of milk fever and no displaced abomasums. To further develop a greater understanding of the Keenan Hi Fibre management programme - a programme which includes the recent research data on the Keenan's Dry Cow Management Programme - a series of local meetings will be held over the winter months. These will be held in conjunction with the local XLVet practice and will reveal the impact this feeding regime has had on herd health, both pre and post calving. For more information please contact your local XLVet practice.

XLVets Feature

Welcome... Andrew Curwen
XLVets are committed to the future of the UK agricultural industry. By working together, and in partnership with other like-minded organisations, XLVets are sharing best practice on advice and disease prevention initiatives. Being firmly at the heart of the farming enterprise, XLVets offer independent and high quality advice and have an active interest in the development and creation of markets for the long term future and prosperity of the industry. To support the activities of XLVets we are delighted to announce the arrival of Andrew Curwen as Commercial Manager.
Fact File

Q. Andrew, What’s your connection with the industry? A. I graduated as a vet from the Bristol Vet School in 1990 and spent three years in general practice. I then joined Grampian Pharmaceuticals providing technical support to vets and farmers across the UK. For the last seven years I have been with the Animal Health Division of Bayer HealthCare latterly as the Marketing Manager for UK and Ireland. Q. What areas have you most enjoyed working in? A. Without doubt the most exciting part of my career so far was to be involved with the launch of the first BVD vaccine for cattle. BVD is not the most straightforward of diseases to understand or explain and so it became simpler to break it down into the idea of white, green and red cows.This seemed to make on-farm health planning an easier exercise. Should you now hear an Orkney farmer explaining their BVD eradication scheme as ‘the hunt for the red ones’ I must apologise I actually like all types of red cattle, especially Herefords! More recently, I have enjoyed the experience of operating within the international global marketplace and I look forward to bringing the skills learnt there to my new role. Q. What is the role of Commercial Manager? A. My main task is to support both the board of directors and the XLVet practices in the objectives that they have set. These include being highly competitive in the health and medicines market, the provision of quality educational and training materials, and involvement with the general commercial aspects to ensure efficiency and excellence in practice. Q. What else do you do with your time? A. With three young children to entertain me, there doesn’t seem to be much time to spare! I am currently Senior Vice-Chairman of the Association of Vets in Industry and enjoy mountain climbing and cycling. Having recently completed the 85 mile cycle ride from Oxford to Cambridge in aid of the British Heart Foundation, I have got some training in early for any follow up to the very successful XL ride to the Royal Show this year! Q. How can we contact you? A. I can be contacted directly on 07834 268137 or Andrew.curwen@xlvets.co.uk


				
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