Respiratory disease is increasing in adult cows. I see a lot of pneumonia outbreaks in adult cows around calving.
This is because their immunity is lowered and they are more vulnerable to viruses.
Calving time for a cow involves a huge change in tempo, from the stress of calving to the subsequent stress of re-acclimatising to the milking parlour.
The cow can't balance her nutritional needs with milk production in the first weeks of lactation and invariably goes into negative energy balance.
And even though a lot of cows might not be sick, they are most likely to shed viruses around this time making them a particular risk for immunoniave young calves on farm.
This is why calf accommodation should not be attached to cow housing or milking parlours.
I've dealt with several pneumonia outbreaks in calves where we saw a dramatic improvement once we removed them long term from the same airspace as the adult cows.
Clinical symptoms of pneumonia to watch out for in adult cows include nasal discharges or coughing.
We should never tolerate a high number of clinically sick cows at calving especially with pneumonia type symptoms.
Making a diagnosis in these cows can make a huge difference.
If we find out the cause of the respiratory disease we can make strategic vaccination choices that will lead to a healthier more productive herd that also poses way less infection risk to young calves.
However the real answer to this problem lies in managing the nutrition and stress in cows around calving and particularly in the first weeks of lactation. Vaccination can minimise infection pressures, but it's the feeding and management strategy that will maximise herd immunity.