Consequences of Early Pneumonia
All the consequences are bad.
In his presentation at the 2016 Dairy Calf and Heifer Association conference in Madison, Wisconsin, on April 13th, Dr. Michael Overton presented numbers for this association between pneumonia early in a calf's life and her subsequent performance. [M. W. Overton, "Importance of Producing a Quality Dairy Replacement Heifer". Proceedings of DCHA, 2016, pp 55-59]
There were 3043 heifers included from two herds - one in California and one from the upper mid-western US. The treatment rate for pneumonia within the first 70 days on the two dairies was 13 percent.
Here are the numbers associated with one pneumonia event within the first 70 days of age:
- Lower body weight at three months - average weight for pneumonia heifers compared to those that were not treated was 12.7 pounds (5.8kg) less. Overall average weight for all heifers at three months was 227 pounds (103kg)
- Lower daily rate of gain for first three months of life - average rate of gain per day for pneumonia heifers compared to those that were not treated was 0.14 pounds (64g) less. Overall daily rate of gain for all heifers measured at three months was 1.56 pounds (708g).
- Heifers that experienced early pneumonia were 2.8 times more likely to be culled compared to those that did not.
- Early pneumonia was associated with 649 pounds (294kg) less 305me milk.
These are the consequences of ONE pneumonia event for these young heifers. I don't want to even think about the heifers that we have to treat two or more times.
Overton commented that in some of his previous analyses the impact of early pneumonia on early growth and culling was greater than on these two study dairies.