Pneumonia is a costly disease on cattle farms, being a killer of cattle but also leading to reduced performance of effected animals.

Pneumonia is essentially inflammation of the lungs and can be caused by several different factors.  Bacterial and viral infectious agents are the root cause, with management and environment also having a part to play with stress on the animals often leading to an outbreak.

Many of the infectious agents causing pneumonia are already present in calves, but pneumonia commonly only manifests itself when the calf’s immune system is compromised during stressful periods.  High risk periods include, weaning, housing, de-horning, changing of groups, transporting, livestock sale etc.

Younger calves are more susceptible, with immunity building as the calf gets older.


Symptoms of Pneumonia include:

  • Loss of appetite and reduced feed intake
  • Dull eyes, Drooped ears
  • Looking “off form”
  • Panting/Coughing
  • Fever (Temperature over 39.5°C)
  • Empty sides
  • Watery discharge from eyes and nose


Preventing pneumonia is a combination of minimising cattle’s exposure to infective agents and maximising their immunity.  Measures include:

  • Avoid stressing animals
  • Careful management of calves around weaning and housing
  • Avoid abrupt changes in diet
  • Adequate ventilation in housing
  • Vaccination programmes




Prevention is definitely better than the cure when it comes to pneumonia.  Irreparable lung damage can occur in severe cases with animals never fully recovering.

Treatment is costly and requires may require use of expensive antibiotics where bacterial infection is identified, vaccination offers a cheap and reliable form of prevention.  Calves should be vaccinated in advance of high risk weaning or housing, to give the immune system the best chance to be ready to fight off infection.  Vaccination protocols differ between live and dead vaccines with some requiring booster shots, there are also different strains of pneumonia causing agents, best practice is to consult with your vet for the most suitable programme for your farm.


For further advice on any of the above, please contact a member of the Moocall team to speak to some of our breeding specialists on +353 1 96 96 038 or email