Managing respiratory health is important

Calf respiratory health

Managing respiratory health in young calves can be a challenge. Maintaining good respiratory health is of the utmost importance to ensure that a calf reaches its potential as a dairy cow later in life.

Bovine respiratory health

The respiratory system of dairy calves is very vulnerable:

  • Lungs develop relatively late in life, only when the calf is 2 years old, are the lungs fully mature. As a result, they have very little reserve capacity
  • Calf airways are relatively narrow, so get easily blocked
  • Calf lungs are heavily segmented, and each segment has only one entry point for the airways. If that entry point is blocked, the entire segment does not function any more

Mucus production helps to clear the airways. It is possible to provide additional support to allow the calf to do this even better.

  • Colostrum management

    Colostrum management

    Ensure calves get sufficient amounts of good quality colostrum; this improves the immune status during the first months of their life.

  • Housing


    Correct housing supports respiratory health:

    - 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 over-crowding.

  • Avoid stressful situations

    Avoid stressful situations

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

    - Consider a step down weaning program 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.


  • 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 at day time and at night are expected, shave the calves properly. This reduces the amount of sweating and avoids the calves being wet at the moment 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 cubical meters of air for a calf of 90 kg.

  • Vaccination


    Consult your vet to ensure calves are properly vaccinated.

How to provide this additional support?

Do the most to maximise your calf's respiratory health.

Download the protocol for managing respiratory health in dairy calves


Facilitate easy breathing

Farm-O-San Pulmosure LD is a complementary feed for calves, containing an essential oil that supports breathing and learing of the airways. Pulmosure LD also contains a natural form of vitamin E and organically bound selenium in order to support the immune function.

Questions about respiratory health?

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