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• Minimize young calves’ exposure to other populations
of cattle such as stockers or feedlot cattle along a fence,
or neighbors’ herds, and not bring in new animals.
• Herds mingling on rangeland may be a risk.
• Crossbred cattle have ‘hybrid vigor’ which includes
more hardiness and disease resistance. There may
also be some subtle genetic differences among cattle
that we don’t yet know about.
• Gathering cows and calves for AI synchronization.
“There may be stress on those calves—depending
on the length of time they are separated from mom—
and those calves may be in close contact with one
another. If some are shedding pathogens they may
expose the other calves,” Dr. Daly explains.
• A year with bad weather, or a hot, dry, dusty period
in late summer may put calves at risk. “Dust clogs
the natural defenses of windpipe and lungs, making
the calf more vulnerable to infections. Extreme
swings in temperature tend to allow pathogens to
thrive in the nasal passages. This can affect the way
those pathogens colonize in the respiratory system,”
says Dr. Daly.
• Calves need to stay hydrated. “When we look at
respiratory disease in highly stressed animals or
dairy calves, the ones that have access to water
always have fewer cases of respiratory disease,” Dr.
Chase relates. “With the immune system, everything
must be able to keep moving—whether it’s mucus in
the upper respiratory tract that has to clear things out
(dust, pathogens) or fl uid in other body systems.”
Dr. Russ Daly, DVM, Extension Veterinarian/Associate Professor, South Dakota State University
Dr. Chris Chase, DVM, Department of Veterinary and Biomedical Sciences, South Dakota State University
same when it comes to risk factors.
Typically we have a couple different
populations. One is the young calves
only a couple of months old. They may
not have had good enough (or an adequate
amount of) colostrum to begin
with, to protect them from some of
those early infections,” he explains.
The other group is older calves out
on pasture with their mothers. “This
may be when there is a normal dropoff
in the colostrum antibodies. This
may make the whole group a bit more
susceptible to pneumonia at once,
and there may be some other factors
we’re not aware of,” Dr. Daly surmises.
“The normal risk factors we think
about with post-weaning pneumonia
(which include the stress of weaning,
and often severe weather) don’t seem
to be there, so it can be frustrating
when we see those problems on pasture
late in the grazing season. It may
be a bunch of calves all losing their
maternal antibodies about the same
time. Sometimes what they’ve had (or
not had) for vaccination can make a
difference, as well, regarding when
they break with pneumonia and how
severe it is,” adds Dr. Daly.
JUNE / JULY 2020 I WORKING RANCH I 49