Managing respiration is important

Bovine Respiration

Respiration in beef calves can be influenced by a combination of factors, such as housing, climate and factors influencing the immunity of the calf. To avoid a negative impact on farm profitability, managing respiration is very important.

Managing respiration requires a systematic approach

Look into management practices from the moment of arrival of the beef calves up to the end of the production cycle. Manage all aspects of herd health.

  • Climate


    Managing the climate correctly is a key to success:

    - Maintain a clean and dry environment.
    - Avoid variations in temperature and humidity as much as possible.
    - If big differences between the temperature during the day and at night are expected, shave the calves properly. This reduces the amount of sweating and avoids the calves becoming wet when the temperature starts going down.
    - Ventilation should be at a level of 6 air changes per hour and air should appear fresh, free of ammonia and free of other smells.
    - Calves should have sufficient space, with an airspace allowance of at least 10 cubic metres of air for a calf of 90kg.

  • Housing


    Correct housing can improve respiration:

    - Separate calves from the dam within 24 hours after birth and house them separately from the cows.
    - In case of group housing, avoid a difference in age of more than 8 weeks within a group.
    - Avoid overcrowding.

  • Avoid stressful situations

    Avoid stressful situations

    Stressful situations result in lower immunity. Avoid stress situations as much as possible:

    - Consider a step down weaning programme and avoid sudden changes in the ration as much as possible.
    - Ensure each animal has sufficient space at the feeding fence.
    - Avoid carrying out stressful procedures simultaneously, so for example, do not dehorn calves at the same time they are being weaned.


  • Vaccination


    Consult your vet to ensure calves are properly vaccinated.

What to do if breathing gets difficult?

Several steps can be taken to manage the respiration of young calves

Download the protocol
for managing respiration                                                                                             in beef calves


Act quickly to facilitate easy breathing

How do you identify the calves that need additional support?

Measuring the rectal temperature of each animal to detect calves requiring additional support can be useful. Once a calf has a rectal temperature of 39.5oC or above, it is time to consult a vet.

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