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How to prevent Bovine Respiratory Disease in cattle

By Grace Chomba

The bovine respiratory disease is common during calving.

Bovine Respiratory Disease is the most devastating disease that causes death, abortion and genital infection. It is caused by viral and bacterial pathogens that affect the lower respiratory tract or the upper respiratory tract.

It is a complex disease influenced by stressors like weaning, change of feed, temperature and humidity variations and weather.

It is common in calves within four weeks of weaning.

The calves can contract the disease when they are being sorted and sold to different farms.

Signs and symptoms

Signs depend on many factors such as the animals' age, the disease stage and causative organisms.

The animals will be dull, lack appetite, depressed and fever. They will also have a rapid and shallow breathing, coughing, salivation and watery nasal and eye discharge.

Nasal discharge symptom.

How to prevent the disease

Minimize exposure to environmental conditions such as dust, crowding and fumes that contribute to disease.

This can be achieved by maintaining good housing and proper ventilation, maintaining proper hygiene and providing adequate housing to avoid overcrowding.

Provide adequate rest, feed and water. Ensure the animals receive adequate levels of essential nutrients such as vitamins and minerals. This will help prevent the disease by improving the animals’ immunity.

Reduce heat stress as it contributes to the disease spread by ensuring there are minimal temperature and humidity variations in their housing facilities.

Keep the animals clean and dry as possible.

Vaccination with appropriated vaccines targeting the viral and bacterial pathogens causing the disease frequently is advised. During vaccination time vaccine doses appropriately or administer them before calving for effectiveness. 

Animals living in areas affected by lungworms should be dewormed regularly. Antibiotics can help stop the bacterial factors of the disease.

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