Problems with Pneumonia in young calves

On most farms at one time or another farmers have to deal with lung problems in young calves. These can cause significant health issues in young calves and damage to the lungs can be irreversible and can make it much more difficult for the calf to thrive and grow, let alone much higher costs in rearing due to higher veterinary costs.

There are many reasons for respiratory issues in young calves such as:

  • Bacteria, infections and Mycoplasma
  • Low immunity in calves; Stress, Lack of quality colostrum,poor nutrition
  • Climate in the sheds; Temperature,Ammonia, Humidity,Stale Air

Climate in the Calf Shed

A possible reason for respiratory problems in calves is the ventilation in the shed. Is there a draught in the shed, do you feel areas have a cold stream of air, is there a dr

aught where the calves lie down?

Calves should be able to lie down comfortably on dry straw bedding protected from the wind. Sometimes these draughts can be hard to detect and with this in mind we would recommend using a smoke test which will show the air flow in the Shed.


Apart from common viruses and bacteria, Mycoplasma is a large cause for lung problems in calves. This pathogen can be very resistant to antibiotics thus making it quite hard to control. In addition, it can also be quite hard to eradicate from sheds as it can last for long periods of time even in the likes of spiders webs in the shed.

There has been a significant increase in Mycoplasma on farms in recent years. Young calves can get infected by the cow usually via drinking contaminated milk. In many instances calves are merely a carrier of the pathogen and will not actually get sick, although if the calf has not received enough quality colostrum or is highly stressed or on poor nutrition this will greatly increase the changes of getting ill via Mycoplasma.

One typical warning sign when infected with Mycoplasma is that the calves keep their heads tilted as a result of a middle ear infection.

What to do to help?

There are some protocols you can put in place to help prevent against Mycoplasma such as:

  • Always prevent BVD. If young animals have a greater resistance to BVD then the chances of an outbreak of Mycoplasma is lessened.
  • Avoid spreading diseases. Always ensure good hygiene with cleaning out buckets, teats, bottles and if using a feeding machine ensure that the teats, hoses and areas around the machine are also kept clean as they can be a breeding ground for bacteria.
  • Always test the colostrum of the cow, especially when infection is suspected. Ensure the calf is getting top quality colostrum and if the quality is not adequate the option to supplement with replacement colostrum may help improve the calfs immune system.
  • Try to have a period between batches of calves that the calf sheds can be cleaned out and disinfected. This will help reduce the number of bacteria in the shed.
  • Try to keep calves in individual pens for atleast 14 days if possible before batching. This will also reduce the risk of spreading disease.
  • If calves start to show signs of illness, keep them separate from the younger newborn calves who may not have as strong of an immune system to fight against disease.


As said above, one of the main things you can do to reduce the risk of illness in young calves is to ensure you try to keep the calves as strong and healthy as possible to make them less vulnerable. Feeding a high quality milk replacer like Eringold OXI which is specifically designed for calves with issues of respiratory problems will greatly help improve resistance and decrease the number of lung treatments. Research has shown that the addition of OXI Plus in milk replacer can decrease the number of calf losses, veterinary treatments is reduced while at the same time increasing consumption of solid feed thus resulting in extra weight at weaning.


If you would like to know more about our Eringold products or for more information please contact us at

Problems with Pneumonia in young calves


For any inquiries please email / call

Chris Mollan:

077 3906 1672 (North)

087 655 7575 (South)