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Information, Treatment and Advice on Pneumonia in Calves


Where there's calves, there's pneumonia! In varying degrees. Everything must be done to try and prevent this in line with the severity or level of risk on your farm. Vaccination is usually helpful for the diseases covered by the vaccine, but there are at least another 15 bugs that are not.

The cause of Pneumonia in calves is multifactorial and therefore bacteria, viruses, husbandry and management practices all play a part in outbreaks. The best and most cost effective way to deal with pneumonia is to prevent it.

Pneumonia prevention is best prevented through a combination of good management, appropriate building design and ventilation and an effective vaccination strategy. 

Pneumonia in cattle

Based on information from – Vet Record (2015) 176, p434

A study of reports of apparent failure of vaccine efficacy showed:-

  • Reports were uncommon, affecting 1.6% of vaccinated cattle
  • 47% of outbreaks were either before the vaccine had time to take affect or had not being used as per the directions
  • The disease breakdowns were usually due to a pathogen NOT in the vaccine
  • Pasteurella multocida was a common case of disease breakdowns in correctly vaccinated cattle


Graham vaccinated his suckled calves prior to autumn housing and this has prevented the severe disease seen previously.

Remember that stocking density, stress, ventilation, nutrition & source of cattle also greatly affect the likelihood of pneumonia out breaks. 

Also consider that anaemic calves are more likely to die from pneumonia because their bool cannot carry enough oxygen anyway. Add bad lungs onto this and the calf is more likely to die!

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