Respiratory challenges in calves
Cattle are more prone than other species to develop respiratory challenges due to several specific anatomical and physiological features, such as lung size relative to body mass and lung clearance ability. Respiratory challenges in calves are the second most common challenge for pre-weaned calves, after digestive challenges. Respiratory challenges in calves are responsible for significant economic losses, due to reduced growth and production performance, as well as early development of longer lasting challenges in animals and increased management costs. Calves that face respiratory challenges at the start of life are known to struggle more with heat stress later in life, as they cannot remove body heat as effectively via panting.
AHV Respi supports respiratory health in calves by preventing and/or removing biofilm from the lungs. It is a powder mixed with the milk and is part of the AHV Calf Health Plan that aims at giving calves the best start in life, proactively.
Causes of respiratory challenges
The highest rate of onset of respiratory challenges is recorded in the period from birth to six months of age, as the functional maturity of the respiratory system is not reached before the end of the first year of life of the animal. Respiratory challenges are caused by different factors such as microbial agents, environmental and animal factors.
- Among the etiological agents we find unfavourable bacteria.
- Among the environmental factors, impacting the prevalence and severity of the challenge, we find: stressful situations generated by environmental changes such as feeding, changes in temperature, humidity and ventilation; the mixing of animals from different origins and the size of the herd. Lastly, housing environments with poor air exchange may also favour the accumulation of unfavourable bacteria and pollutants, such as dust and ammonia. Temperature and humidity greatly affect the health of the animal with the negative impact on the mucociliary activity and functionality of the pulmonary arteries.
- Among animal factors, we find: its general condition; the degree of immunity achieved and its maturity.
Measure of proactive approach
To take a proactive approach for optimal respiratory health, it is very important to limit the exposure of the animal to the above risk factors that cause challenges.
Hygiene and housing
To reduce the onset of respiratory challenges it is important to guarantee calves are kept in a well-ventilated environment with no draughts. The pens must be clean, comfortable, dry and abundant -especially during the colder months (spring calves), to allow the animal to maintain its body temperature without draining the reserves of energy it has. Instead, this energy is better spent on the essentials of growth and the development of the (active) immune system. Maintaining a good bacterial balance inside the calf also allows to reduce the spread of respiratory challenges inside the calf. Despite the fact that most of the bacteria present in the air are not dangerous, continuous exposure can be a burden on the defences of the respiratory system especially if related to poor housing conditions (not only structures and poor ventilation, but also, for example, caused by overcrowding). Animals should be raised in small groups (preferably less than 10 animals per group), as the greater the number of animals, the more their space is restricted and with that, increase the chance of spreading the challenge even further. Finally, it is essential to ensure the correct administration of food and water because nutritional deficits favour the onset of respiratory challenges.
It is important to support the (passive) immunity of the calf starting with a good colostrum procedure. At birth, maternal antibodies play a protective role against respiratory challenges in the first weeks of the calf’s life: inadequate transfer of maternal immunity with colostrum doubles the risk of developing respiratory challenges in the calf. In order not to compromise the immunity of the calf it is important to reduce the situations during which challenging situations can be expected before and after weaning and e.g. via mixing and movement of animals.
AHV’s proactive Calf Health Plan
AHV’s Calf Health Plan includes AHV Respi and AHV Booster powder that keep the lungs of calves clear. This way, energy can flow into growth and development and will result in a healthier and better developed calf. The returns will be manyfold once the calf becomes a heifer that needs to become pregnant and start milk production after calving.
To take a proactive approach for optimal respiratory health in calves is very important to reduce risk factors and to support the immune system of calves. It will result in a better developed lactation animal that produces more milk and can deal with heat stress better.
AHV (Animal Health Vision) is the global leader in quorum sensing-powered animal health solutions and advisory services, giving #PowerToTheFarmer to optimise their animal health. Since opening in New Zealand February 2022, AHV has tailored a range of protocols to New Zealand farming challenges to power herd longevity, productivity and profitability. Reach out to your local Territory Manager or call AHV New Zealand at 0800 424 869 to learn more about how AHV can support your farm.
These products are mentioned:
AHV Respi Powder
AHV Booster Powder
Get in touch!
Would you like to be visited by an Territory Manager to discuss the health challenges on your farm together? Our AHV Territory Manager will be happy to visit you to jointly assess the health of your cows and come up with appropriate farm-specific advice.
NZ – Get in touch
"*" indicates required fields