Viruses generally initiate a pneumonia outbreak, but a secondary infection of bacteria results in more severe lung damage.

The cause of an outbreak of pneumonia is usually multifactorial and may be due to a number of the following: –

  • Poor colostrum quality (may be due to poor dry cow nutrition, including vitamin E and selenium)
  • Mixing of age groups of calves
  • Shared air space with older cattle
  • Poor cleaning routine
  • Early weaning (before 5 weeks)
  • An outbreak of scours can lead to increased risk of pneumonia
  • Poor ventilation in calf housing
  • Cold, humid conditions, sudden changes in air temperature
  • Stress due to different causes and change in the environment have also been associated with outbreaks of pneumonia
  • Poor nutrition including poor quality calf milk replacer
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