October 17, 2008


Winter, a risky season for cattle

Winter is the season when cattle, especially younger animals, are at risk from a wide range of diseases.


Pneumonia is increasingly associated with bovine viral diarrhoea (BVD), a condition that costs the cattle industry millions of pounds, according to Dr Basil Lawman, a consultant of the beef sector.


Although the disease has been largely eliminated from beef herds, but cattle will be at risk if they move to a farm that houses infected stocks.


Symptoms of BVD infection are nearly undetectable in the early stage and the animal develops resistance quickly. However, the problem is that the animal will have no resistance to other disease three to four weeks after it is infected.


In many finishing units, this mixing and infection coincides with cattle being housed and the potential risk of pneumonia.


"Commercial beef feeders should realise that BVD is potentially more important to them than it is to breeders. Many pneumonia outbreaks are the result of BVD infection coming into herds unseen. I want finishers to appreciate that such outbreaks can be avoided."


A solution involves a vaccination programme for calves prior to moving to feeding farms. This prevention regime will be a financial burden to farmers but Scottish livestock development adviser Bryan Hamilton insists that vaccination will bring big benefits.

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