We continue our two-part series on building BRD immunity in young calves. Terry Engelken, DVM, MS, an associate professor at Iowa State University College of Veterinary Medicine, is a guest blogger.
The losses associated with BRD in nursing calves include both the obvious and those that are not so apparent. Medical expenses, labor costs and death losses are straightforward and easy to calculate. It is more difficult to track weaning weight losses in individual calves after they recover from a bout of BRD.
How do you combat BRD in nursing calves? What do you vaccinate nursing calves for?
Research indicates calves that get sick for any reason during the suckling period will weigh from 20 to 35 pounds less at weaning compared to their healthy herd mates. In addition to the impact on performance, researchers are looking into the effect of nursing calf morbidity on carcass ultrasound characteristics at a year of age.
Recent work analyzed the effect of morbidity due to pinkeye. The ultrasound results found that calves that were treated for pinkeye during the nursing period showed a decrease in marbling and ribeye area when measured via ultrasound at a year of age. I would expect similar results for nursing calves that had morbidity due to BRD.
New technologies are enabling vaccines to be given at a younger age. The intranasal vaccine route should be a consideration when possible because research shows that the intranasal vaccine route is less stressful on the calves than vaccines that are given under the skin.
Intranasal vaccines work at the point of attack against BRD pathogens – directly in the nose and upper respiratory tract – to provide protection.
With vaccinations, no single program fits all. Your veterinarian can help you stay current on vaccination practices and help create a vaccination program that best fits your operation.