Vets on pneumonia red alert – ‘Farmers must reduce cattle stress levels’

Farmers must do everything they can to reduce stress levels for young stock at housing, according to Galway Veterinarian Liam O’Malley.

“If this is not achieved then weanlings, particularly freshly weaned suckled calves, will be very much  predisposed to pneumonia,” he said.

“Having sheds with good ventilation is extremely important.

“Weather conditions at housing will also play a critical role. Wide variations in temperature, such as those forecast for the next few days, will act to enhance the risk of stock taking pneumonia.

“This time of the year is always a high risk period for respiratory problems in cattle,” he said.

Constant cold conditions are not a problem, he said, but once temperatures start to fluctuate widely, the number of pneumonia-related cases that vets deal with will increase accordingly.

O’Malley confirmed that a significant number of cattle in East Galway have yet to be housed.

“Vaccination against pneumonia is an option that should be confirmed,” he added.

“Currently, there are batch vaccines covering IBR, RSV and PIC viruses.

“But it’s a bit late to be thinking of them as a preventative measure in the context of the 2016 housing season.

Older cattle can receive the required dose by way of an intramuscular injection while there are intra-nasal options available for calves over 6 weeks old.

“Most of the available vaccines give three months’ cover, from a disease protection perspective. Thereafter, a second shot will be required,” he said.

O’Malley said that diseases such as IBR were once associated with cattle brought-in from marts.

“But these circumstances are fast changing.

“The reality is that the viruses linked to the various forms of pneumonia are now found on most home farms. This is adding to ubiquitous nature of pneumonia within Irish agriculture at the present time.

“Yes vaccines are expensive. But this pales into insignificance if they act to prevent cattle deaths in the wake of a pneumonia outbreak,” he said.