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 A pneumonia question

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Grassfarmer



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Join date : 2010-09-27
Location : Belmont, Manitoba, Canada

PostSubject: A pneumonia question   Thu Dec 29, 2011 8:14 pm

We have a pretty healthy herd and treat very little but we do have pneumonia issues from time to time. The one recurring issue is pneumonia in new born calves (days 2 to 4) which has affected about 3% of our calves in recent years. We calve on banked grass mid April in a very low stress situation. We hardly ever treat calves for scours or other early life problems but we have these few calves that you spot sitting puffing away running a high temperature (@106f). If you get them on day one and treat them with Nuflor maybe 50% recover 100% - the rest become chronics and we lose them either in the fall or the following winter. If you don't spot them on day one it's game over - they never recover. It tends to affect first and second calvers worse which might indicate poorer colostrum and hence immunity? but we have had mature cow's calves affected too. The cases always occur in calves born within a 3-5 day period even if they are born in different fields. It doesn't seem to correlate to a particular weather pattern - neither snowstorms or hot spells seem to affect the incidence any. One feature I'm 100% sure on but our vet casually dismisses - the calves have all been sired by the same bull. To be fair he has been used more often on the younger females but not exclusively. It has been more of an issue on the tighter bred cattle - but again they mainly are in that younger age group, there have been occasional incidences in relatively unrelated purebred cows. He has never sired an f1 calf with this condition. The bull himself has never been under the weather a day in his life.
So has anyone an opinion on this - could it be genetic or if it's environmental what is the cause or trigger? Anyone experienced anything similar?
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chocolate cow



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PostSubject: Re: A pneumonia question   Thu Dec 29, 2011 9:30 pm

Have you ever posted one of the calves? I'm wondering what their lungs look like or if this could be a secondary issue from something else, like a navel infection. I'm probably way off, but what the heck!
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Grassfarmer



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PostSubject: Re: A pneumonia question   Thu Dec 29, 2011 11:13 pm

I haven't ever posted one - they usually die a long time after the initial first week illness and i'm sure they would just show lungs rotted out. That's what kills them but I don't know what causes it - doesn't seem to be navel or anything else other than breathing hard and running the high temp. Just look to be completely healthy calves apart from the breathing. Below is a couple of typical calving time pictures from our place - I just fail to see what the source or contaminant is in this environment.


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chocolate cow



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PostSubject: Re: A pneumonia question   Thu Dec 29, 2011 11:26 pm

Due to a situation beyond my control this past Spring, I had to change my health protocol on my calves. I wouldn't be able to vaccinate or brand before going to grass. Help wouldn't be available. So, I vaccinated at birth. I know that's questionable but I talked to my veterinarian. I used Vira-Shield, a killed vaccine. I gave each calf a 5cc shot of it and 2cc of blackleg. I never had a sick calf. I never had a case of pinkeye all summer and that's ALWAYS a problem about the 1st of August - especially as hot and dry as we were here. It's been the healthiest calf crop I've ever raised. Point is, have you thought about doing something like that?

There's also a new(er) product called Inforce 3. It's a nasal vaccine that would give you a very fast response. It can be purchased in single dose bottles.

It sounds like inadequate passive transfer of immunity, doesn't it? The cows/calves affected, are they summered together then sorted into different groups for calving? Mineral, salt intake?



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PatB



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PostSubject: Re: A pneumonia question   Fri Dec 30, 2011 7:57 am

We vacinate with BoBac 2x and make sure the cows are on a free choice mineral program with high rates of selenium. Selenium plays a major role in animals immune response. Selenium is also important for a cows reproductive health also. I believe that genetics play a role in how succeptable animals are to health challenges. Past experience and observation support this theory.
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Grassfarmer



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PostSubject: Re: A pneumonia question   Fri Dec 30, 2011 5:50 pm

chocolate cow wrote:
Due to a situation beyond my control this past Spring, I had to change my health protocol on my calves. I wouldn't be able to vaccinate or brand before going to grass. Help wouldn't be available. So, I vaccinated at birth. I know that's questionable but I talked to my veterinarian. I used Vira-Shield, a killed vaccine. I gave each calf a 5cc shot of it and 2cc of blackleg. I never had a sick calf. I never had a case of pinkeye all summer and that's ALWAYS a problem about the 1st of August - especially as hot and dry as we were here. It's been the healthiest calf crop I've ever raised. Point is, have you thought about doing something like that?

There's also a new(er) product called Inforce 3. It's a nasal vaccine that would give you a very fast response. It can be purchased in single dose bottles.

It sounds like inadequate passive transfer of immunity, doesn't it? The cows/calves affected, are they summered together then sorted into different groups for calving? Mineral, salt intake?




Thanks CC, Vaccinating at birth would not be difficult for me as I catch and tag every calf on day one anyway - if I knew what I was vaccinating against. The modified live the cows are on should cover IBR, BVD, P13 and BRSV but as you say there might be inadequate passive transfer of immunity. I see the Vira-Shield you mention is recommended to be given two doses of 5ml 4-5 weeks apart initially so you would think that would be unlikely to work so well with only the initial dose but who knows with vaccine I think there is a lot of hit and miss with them. I hope your program works as well this year but I'm cautious of one year results after experiencing that the first year we used kelp - every health problem we ever encounter disappeared and I thought it was a miracle cure - until the next year when some reappeared. Seems different years can bring very different challenges.
Our cows run together most of the time - split them off into bull groups from June-October then they get mixed up again and there is no pattern there that would indicate the trouble is coming from one grazing source. We have a minimalist approach to minerals but usually boost intake by adding it to the silage 6-8 weeks prior to calving. We have tried feeding mineral with Rumensin prior to calving at the vets suggestion but it made no difference and I hate using that stuff as a routine.
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chocolate cow



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PostSubject: Re: A pneumonia question   Fri Dec 30, 2011 6:53 pm

Grassy, you are 110% correct in that what worked in 2011 may be a wreck in 2012. I am going to do the same thing again expecting the same results Smile
The problem with so many "situations" we encounter with cattle is it's very difficult to pin point a cause. I currently have a 500lb steer in a pen with more 500 lb steers. They aren't crowded and this guy shows up yesterday morning with a broken leg. WTH caused that to happen? It's not a fixable break either, well it is with a .22.

There's probably a better answer than vaccinating at birth but it's all I can think of since there's no way to tell which calf will have this problem. Opposite reaction would be to give each one an anti-biotic at birth. That seems drastic.

Your veterinarian doesn't have any suggestions?
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Gus



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Location : Southeast Idaho

PostSubject: Re: A pneumonia question   Fri Dec 30, 2011 7:47 pm

I'm with you when you start thinking you have all the answers, there is always something to prove you don't. One of the best health problem solvers I did was calve cows in one field and move the pairs off to a clean field the following day or two. I've been lucky and have had almost zero health problem for some time. But I still remember the day I left for work (I worked a 4 day week) on Thursday thinking every thing was great. Only to be called on Saturday to be told one of the calves was very sick, by Monday he was dead and I ended up doctoring every calf I had some several times, I can tell you for a couple of weeks it was hell. I'm pretty sure the cause of my infection was a dairy up stream from me, the Vet wouldn't confirm it, but did say I was on the right track. I have no answer for you but wish you well on finding the cause.
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Bob H



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PostSubject: Re: A pneumonia question   Fri Dec 30, 2011 7:54 pm

Iain I noticed that the calves have tags what happens if you do not disturb them at all. We try not to ever move calves less than a month old and let them get attached to their mother as nature intended. Just some thoughts. Bob H
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PatB



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PostSubject: Re: A pneumonia question   Fri Dec 30, 2011 9:15 pm

GF do the calfs have pneumonia or symptoms similiar to pneumonia that could be cause by ecoli or salmonella or some other bacteria. 2 to 4 days of age seems to be too young to me to have developed pneumonia. You might want to look into Bo-Bac-2X as a vaccine to be given to newborn calves.
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Grassfarmer



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Location : Belmont, Manitoba, Canada

PostSubject: Re: A pneumonia question   Fri Dec 30, 2011 10:19 pm

CC, I want to keep away from routine antibiotic use as our grassed beef is sold as antibiotic free. Anything I treat gets pulled from that program and sold to the commodity system. I don't mess with that either as I have at least two customers who told me they suffer severe allergic reactions if they eat beef that has ever been treated with antibiotics. Don't know if that is absolutely accurate but it's their money and they pay me to produce to this standard.

Gus, We create a pretty clean environment by calving on the banked grass. We typically put 100 pregnant cows in a field and after a week or so there will be 25-30 calves born - then we move the pregnant cows out to another fresh field. Once the grass runs out in the first field the pairs move to a fresh field also and we don't combine the lots of pairs until they are over a month old. This practice prevents mixing old and young calves and calving on dirty ground and has essentially eliminated scours.

Bob, We tag and rubber band steers on day one, once a calf has suckled, to keep track of who is who with the purebreds. I walk the fields twice a day and very often can work a calf without it even getting to it's feet or it's mother getting upset. I think it's the lowest stress time to work them but it has to be on day one or it becomes a rodeo catching them which would create stress.

Pat, the symptoms are the calves are visibly breathing hard and running a temp of @106 usually. It seems too young to me too to be developing pneumonia but surely that would apply to an ecoli or salmonella problem also? I would expect those problems more if they were being born in a field where month old calves were already running.
I remember a weird thing we had in Scotland with Galloways one year where the calves weren't suckling - by about the second day we were wrestling with them holding them under a cow trying to get them to suckle and it was like they were retarded - fighting not too suckle. They then developed cloudy whites in their eyes and usually died. That was attributed to a severe copper deficiency and some kind of infection travelling up the navel and affecting the brain soon after birth. That and rotavirus are the only things I've seen hit calves so soon after birth.
Is nobody inclined to think there is a genetic component given they are all off one bull? It's maybe affecting 3% of my calves but it's about 8% of his calves 3+ years in a row.
Thanks all for the feedback and ideas.


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chocolate cow



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PostSubject: Re: A pneumonia question   Fri Dec 30, 2011 10:57 pm

Last year I had a 2 year old bull I put with 22 cows exclusively. No other bull ever got into the pasture. At preg check time, there was an uncomfortable number of opens. 60 day breeding season here, usually. I was a little delayed in getting to this pasture so calving season stretched about 10 days longer.

Calving started and the first two from him were dead with funny shaped heads. Then, the real fun started. I started getting calves that my veterinarian called snorter dwarf's. I've still got the pictures. Calves were sent to Dr. Steffan, Nebraska. These calves were alive but couldn't stand, couldn't raise their heads and shivered uncontrollably. They had short stubby heads/noses. There were 9-10 of them.

Monday, this week, I ran all the calves through the chute to put Angus Source tags in their ears. The few calves from this bull that were born unaffected are the poorest calves of the entire group.

Here's what I learned: I paid too damn much for the bull. Numbers don't mean shit. Papers mean less. Just because he was expensive didn't make him good.

Yes, your bull might be the problem but to find the answer, you'll need to breed him back to the cows(calf) which have problems this calving season and since it sounds like the cows are random from year to year, that still won't give you the answer.

I do believe, if it was me, the first calf that shows symptoms would be grabbed and taken to the vet for tests. A blood test should show what's going on shouldn't it?

I agree with the anti-biotic usage. Like I said, it would be the last resort.

Oh yeah, the calves of mine that Dr. Steffan posted? He said they had a heart valve problem and swollen heads.
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chocolate cow



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PostSubject: Re: A pneumonia question   Wed Jan 11, 2012 2:48 pm

Iain,

Yesterday on the radio there was a segment about passive immunity transfer or the lack of it between cow & calf. The veterinarian speaking said problems will start showing about 3-5 days after the calf's birth if he has been shorted. He went on to talk about causes and remedies. I thought about your question and wondered if you gave your calves a dose of a good probiotic at birth if you could avert the problems you've had since you can't identify a specific cow(s). The vet was mostly targeting first calf heifers, bad weather, and commercial colostrum products.
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Gus



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PostSubject: Re: A pneumonia question   Wed Jan 11, 2012 3:10 pm

I'm no geneticist, but what it sounds to me like , you are wondering if this could be a genetic problem. I would say you may have a gene that is allow the calves to get sick easier than the other calves, but it is unlikely the sickness is caused by the genetics. Having said that there are a lot of other factors that could cause the problem. All the calves being out of only one sire, does point a finger. so I ask does this bull produce good enough animals to keep him around. Some times it comes down to what makes you feel better, would you feel better if this bull disappeared. It sounds like you already suspect him to be the problem.

Your calving condition looked good, as does your pictures. Best of luck.
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Grassfarmer



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PostSubject: Re: A pneumonia question   Thu Jan 12, 2012 10:23 pm

Been playing phone tag with my vet since New Year so am still awaiting his input before deciding how to treat things this year.
Gus you are right I am leaning against using the bull much more - probably will use him another year until I'm happy enough with some of sons to replace him. I bred him to only Angus cows and mainly mature purebreds this year so i'll see if that solves the problem.
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Lucky_P



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PostSubject: Re: A pneumonia question   Tue Jan 17, 2012 5:08 pm

Some of the recent work that's been done looking at immune function in the cow and neonatal calf indicate that colostral antibody concentrations are pretty well set at 5 weeks prior to calving - so...if you're vaccinating the cow herd in an effort to maximize colostral antibody levels to be transferred to the calf, you need to be sure to administer any and all vaccines or boosters long enough before that 5-wk pre-partum 'cutoff' date to get the job done.
In other words, administering 'pre-calving' boosters two weeks or a month before anticipated calving is TOO LATE - regardless of what the vaccine label says.

It also seems that, contrary to what we've long thought and been taught, that maternal antibodies don't necessarily interfere with a baby calf's ability to respond to most of the commonly-used vaccines - so, even though most vaccines/bacterins don't carry a label recommendation for vaccinating calves under 3 months of age ('cause the manufacturers haven't done the studies to satisfy USDA/FDA in order to make that label claim) - calves probably can and will respond to early vaccination, if the situation necessitates it.

However, a calf's immune system is at its lowest ebb between days 3 and 7 - even if they got good colostrum - so if you're going to vaccinate, you need to do it in the first day or two, or wait 'til it's 7-10 days old.

BVD fraction of viral vaccines - whether modified live or killed - will block altogether, or, at best, significantly diminish response to bacterins administered at the same time. So...it's better to split 'em up and give bacterins(Clostridials, Lepto, Pasteurella/Mannheimia, Haemophilus, etc.) a week or two beforehand or a week or two after giving a viral vaccine containing BVD.

Genetics certainly can and do play a role in disease resistance - I remember as far back as the mid-1980s, folks at TAMU had identified one or more genetic markers that seemed to signal resistance to infection with Brucella abortus. Have seen some recent papers indicating that scientists are once again looking at identifying gene markers that may allow for selection of animals that are less likely to have problems with respiratory disease, mastitis, etc.
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MKeeney
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PostSubject: Re: A pneumonia question   Tue Jan 17, 2012 9:03 pm

thanks Lucky...for those who might not know, Lucky is ..well...I looked it up to be correct...
Dr. Lucky Pittman, Head of Pathology
MSU Breathitt Veterinary Center
715 North Drive, PO Box 2000
Hopkinsville, KY 42241-2000

and yes, they have an excellent reputation among cattle producers
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Grassfarmer



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PostSubject: Re: A pneumonia question   Tue Jan 17, 2012 9:32 pm

Lucky-P, You obviously know a lot about the subject so I'll throw this one out to you. There were a couple of cases about 4-5 years back in Alberta where bulls appeared to be infected with BVD but they were not chronics or PIs and it was only open cows/problem calves that drew attention to it. I heard that a "type 2 BVD mutation" linked to them being vaccinated with Starvac MV was identified in one of them after testing an ear sample through a human immunology lab after the regular vet testing lab test wasn't sensitive enough to pick it up. Any truth to that? or any likelihood that it could have happened?
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Lucky_P



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PostSubject: Re: A pneumonia question   Wed Jan 18, 2012 11:23 am

Grassfarmer,
I'm unfamiliar with the specific case you mention - but will dig around to see if I can find some info.

Past claims that vaccines containing Type I BVD offered substantial cross-protection against Type II have been shown to be... well, less than reliable.
By its very nature, BVD virus is prone to frequent point mutations - they're just 'accidents' that occur during translation/transcription. Type II, which seems to be more virulent, from a clinical disease standpoint, also appears to be more prone to mutations than Type I. So...in any outbreak of BVD-associated disease, it's anyone's guess as to what strain of BVD is going to be the offender. That said, most of the current vaccines, with both Type I and Type II BVD should provide adequate protection - though vaccine failure can occur - and that's most commonly due to mishandling of the mlv product before administration to the cattle.

Animals that are acutely infected with BVD virus will shed - and can serve as a potential source infection for other animals in the herd - though they typically shed much lower levels of virus than PI animals, and only for a short time.
Animals vaccinated with a modified-live BVD virus may also shed virus - again, at low levels - for at least 2 weeks following vaccination, hence most biologics manufacturers' recommendation that you complete any mlv BVD vaccination program at least 14 days prior to the beginning of breeding season.

One of the seminal articles on diagnosis of BVD-PI animals based on immunohistochemistry on formalin-fixed ear notches (ca. 2000) suggested that you could differentiate PI animals from acutely-infected animals, based on distribution of viral antigen in the skin.
I looked at a bunch of 'em, and never could make the distinction - and conversations with a friend at UofWyoming (they had a BVD-infected research herd) suggested, that in his opinion, that published claim was just so much BS. PI and acute animals have lots of BVD virus in the skin, and it's everywhere. They were still finding positive staining in ear notches from acutely-infected animals 12-16 weeks out from infection.

We compared immunohistochemistry on fixed ear notches, direct fluorescent antibody tests on fresh ear notches, and antigen-capture ELISA (duplicate samples, all from the same animal, confirmed with virus isolation) and found that all were reasonably accurate and sensitive - but eventually opted to go with the antigen-capture ELISA test, as it was adaptable to tissue, blood, serum, and required less 'technician time' to prepare samples.
Many of the commercial labs doing BVD testing 'pool' multiple animal samples, and it's a good way to reduce cost to producers - but USDA/AAVLD/OIE requirements preclude our lab from pooling samples, as it is not an approved, validated method. I'm relatively well-convinced that testing pooled samples is probably adequate, but the potential for human error &/or 'false negatives' is definitely there.

At least 25% of the bovine respiratory disease cases we see have BVD 'in the mix', so I KNOW it's out there - but I don't see one of those BVD Mucosal Disease cases - with diarrhea and ulcers throughout the GI tract - more than once a year or so. Some of those pneumonic calves with pneumonia COULD be PI calves, but at the stage that I get them, there's no way to tell for sure if they were PI or acute infections.
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PostSubject: Re: A pneumonia question   Wed Jan 18, 2012 12:50 pm

Thank you Lucky for that information we have a BVD calf every so often. we run on open range and we vaccinate, but it is like a new car getting a flat tire, It happens.
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