Vets are advising North East farmers to beware of pneumonia in young stock.
Respiratory disease in cattle affects animal welfare and leads to significant financial loss through reduced productivity, costly treatment and possible deaths.
Experience shows the greatest risk is in the months of December and January, directly after cattle are housed, and farmers are therefore advised to have a control strategy in place now.
The disease tends to strike animals under one year of age.
According to experts from Scotland’s Rural College (SRUC), by the time one or two animals are showing obvious signs of respiratory infection, many others in the group will be going through the less visible early phase of the disease.
“Bovine Respiratory Disease or BRD is caused by many different things”, said SRUC veterinary investigation officer, Franz Brulisauer.
“Factors such as poor ventilation, stress, viruses or lungworms can lead to damage the respiratory tract and act as ‘door openers’ for follow-up infections by bacteria, which normally don’t harm the animal but take the opportunity to run riot. We would urge farmers to talk to their vets about control plans”.
Antibiotics can treat the condition but, with increasing fears over antibiotic resistance, this should be regarded as a last resort.
Mr Brulisauer recommends strategies aimed at prevention rather then cure.
“Stress can play a big factor so jobs like dehorning should be done before the animals come in,” he said. “Once the cattle are inside try to keep them in the same groups and avoid remixing or overstocking. Remember the change of diet can sometimes upset them and make them vulnerable to secondary infection. Of course the buildings should have good ventilation.”