Youngstock Issues at Grass

In the last few weeks we have diagnosed a number of conditions in the post mortem room, affecting both beef and dairy calves, which are worth looking out for on other holdings.


Last week we diagnosed our first case of fatal parasitic pneumonia in a six-month-old weaned calf with a significant burden of Dictyocaulus viviparus.  The group of 35 calves had been set stocked since spring.  The animal had failed to respond to antibiotic treatment for suspected bacterial pneumonia and a second was ill. 


In the last 6 weeks we have examined the carcases of five, three to twelve month old calves which have died of blackleg.  The heart was the focus of infection in three (Figure 1), the lumbar muscles in another, and the muscles of the neck in the fifth.  Multiple deaths occurred in all cases. 









Figure 1:  Fibrinous pericarditis due to cardiac blackleg


Losses due to coccidiosis are occurring despite the good weather (Figure 2).  It is possible that calves are congregating in shaded areas leading to hot spots of contamination.  Low sward heights may increase oocyst intakes and reduced nutrition from forage could impair calves’ ability to cope with disease challenge. 

haemorrhagic enteritis








Figure 2: Haemorrhagic enteritis due to coccidiosis

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