Frequent cattle diseases and treatments 2.

In the first part of our article we reviewed the most common diseases. Now we take a look at the possible treatments with the help of veterinarian Emese Hanko Farago.

Prevention, protection

It is worth following a complex approach in the fight against diseases, because only in this way can our activities be successful, says Emese Hanko Farago vet. Due to the complexity, a lot of factors have to be paid attention to: the condition of the pasture and the barn, the husbandry technology, the hygiene. The effectiveness of the control is determined by the general health of the animal, the host, the quality of the feed and drinking water, the storage of the feed, etc.

According to the expert of Dunavet, in the fight against various pathogens, it is important that the general management is strictly adhered to by the keepers. It is also extremely important, according to him, that the given protocol is always adapted to a specific livestock farm.

Despite the utmost care, it can happen that prevention does not work, and treatment is inevitable. This is the worse version for the farmer, as it is often not possible to restore the original condition, and the disease means a loss of production and a serious additional cost.

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Infectious diseases threaten beef and dairy cattle health and welfare and can decrease productivity and profitability. Vaccination is an important component of control and prevention of these diseases. A vaccination program, however, is not a substitute for good nutrition, adequate ventilation, effective sanitation, and other health management procedures. Vaccines help prevent infectious diseases, but no vaccine provides 100 percent immunity for all animals in a herd. Vaccines raise the general level of herd immunity so that the spread of an infectious disease or severity of clinical illness is minimal.

More serious diseases affecting the entire herd can be prevented by vaccination, some of which are not optional but compulsory for all livestock units.

It is important for all keepers to keep in mind that vaccines are a tool for prevention, not a cure!

The most important diseases to be vaccinated


IBR or Infectious Bovine Rhinotracheitis is a viral disease caused by the bovine herpes virus. The virus also causes venereal disease and brain disease in calves but these are far less common. IBR affects cattle of all ages. Infection occurs by inhalation and requires contact between animals spreading quickly through the group.  The disease is characterized by inflammation of the upper respiratory tract.  The virus that causes IBR, Bovine herpesvirus 1 (BHV 1) also causes infectious pustular vulvovaginitis in the female, and infectious balanoposthitis in the male and can cause abortions and fetal deformities.

The primary clinical signs of IBR are respiratory ones and in milder cases can be confused with other causes of pneumonia in cattle. In milder cases, conjunctivitis, occasional coughing and poor milk yield may be the only signs noticed. Some strains of the virus do however cause severe disease.

There are a variety of effective IBR vaccines available, including marker vaccines that allow vaccinated animals to be distinguished from naturally infected ones on serology tests. Vaccination should always be carried out according to an eradication plan adapted to the livestock farm. Elimination of the virus from closed herds is possible with testing and vaccination. But keeping herds free from IBR requires careful biosecurity including vaccination and quarantine of newly purchased cattle of uncertain status.


Bovine Viral Diarrhea (BVD) is a disease of cattle caused by the Bovine Viral Diarrhea Virus (BVDV). The virus is widespread and most herds are at risk for infection.

The signs of BVD vary, depending on the immune status of the exposed animals, and the strain of the infecting virus. The incubation period is about three to five days. If susceptible (non-vaccinated) animals are infected with a virulent strain of the virus, the disease will likely appear as an acute, severe sickness, with bloody diarrhea, high fever (105–107 degrees), off-feed, mouth ulcers, mucosal-disease and often pneumonia, however, the most important feature of infection is the immunosuppressive effect of the virus.

BVD vaccines are an important part of the prevention program. Vaccines are available in two forms – modified live and killed. Both forms have their advantages and disadvantages.

Both types of vaccines, if administered properly and according to the label, will provide sufficient immunity to prevent the clinical onset of acute BVD, a good vaccine can help prevent the development of a persistently infected calf. To maintain this level of immunity, the modified live vaccine needs to be given at least annually, and the killed vaccine needs to be given every 6 months.

Vaccines are a tool for prevention, not a cure. Since BVD outbreaks are commonly associated with new animals entering the herd, maintaining a closed herd is the ideal approach to keep the virus out.


The purpose of vaccinating against mastitis-causing bacteria is to stimulate the cow’s immune system to protect it against subsequent infection or disease. For example, vaccination may increase circulating antibodies in the bloodstream against certain mastitis pathogens to prevent or limit bacterial growth after invasion into a mammary quarter. The resulting enhanced immunity may also minimize pathogen damage to milk-producing tissues, modify the inflammatory response, promote tissue repair, and reduce the clinical expression of disease. When looking at reducing economic losses, a mastitis vaccine is ultimately a worthwhile investment.

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Vaccination practice is one of the main tools to control the Bovine Respiratory Disease Complex (BRDC). Since wide-spreading and serious damages related to BRDC, immunization to respiratory pathogens should be considered a core vaccination in either dairy or beef cattle operations. Vaccination to BRDC should be planned following a program of immunization. Systematic immunization of the animals towards respiratory pathogens is pivotal to control BRDC reducing clinical signs and pathogen spreading.

For the prevention of respiratory diseases in calves, a number of different combinations of vaccines are available to prevent economic damage caused by viruses (BRSV, Pi3) and bacteria (Mannheimia haemolytica, Histophilus somni).

Intestinal Diseases

To prevent intestinal disease in newborn calves, cows should be vaccinated to provide passive protection to young animals in a colostrum-specific manner. The most common pathogens that cause gastrointestinal (enteric) disease are Rotavirus, Coronavirus, and E.coli. We have the opportunity to develop vaccine protection against these.


Ringworm is one of the commonest skin diseases in cattle. Ringworm is a transmissible infectious skin disease caused most often by Trichophyton verrucosum, a spore forming fungi. The spores can remain alive for years in a dry environment. It occurs in all species of mammals including cattle and man. Vaccination against the main strain of ringworm is possible. The vaccine can be used both as a preventative measure (before signs appear) or treatment using a double dose of vaccine (for animals already affected).

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