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The effect of treatment with long-acting antibiotic at postweaning movement on respiratory disease and on growth in commercial dairy calves

Stanton, A.L., Kelton, D.F., LeBlanc, S.J., Millman, S.T., Wormuth, J., Dingwell, R.T., Leslie, K.E.
Journal of dairy science 2010 v.93 no.2 pp. 574-581
drug therapy, long term effects, antibiotics, weaning, bovine respiratory disease, disease incidence, commercial farms, dairy cattle, calves, calf housing, animal growth
Bovine respiratory disease (BRD) is a major concern when raising replacement heifers because of the high incidence and long-term effects of this disease, such as decreased growth and increased time to first calving. The objective of this study was to determine the effect of tulathromycin (TUL) treatment at postweaning movement on the incidence of BRD in dairy replacement heifers. A total of 1,395 heifers were enrolled between November 2006 and June 2007 at a commercial heifer-raising facility. Calves were randomly assigned either to treatment with TUL or to a positive control group treated with oxytetracycline (TET). Calves treated with TUL were 0.5 times (95% CI: 0.4 to 0.7) less likely to be treated for BRD in the 60 d following enrollment than calves treated with TET. For calves that had no history of BRD in the pre-enrollment period, TET calves weighed 4.9±0.5kg less than TUL calves after 6 wk in group housing. If calves were treated for BRD in the pre-enrollment period, there was no treatment effect on growth. Calves with clinical BRD in the 60 d following movement weighed 7.9±0.6kg less than calves without BRD after 6 wk in group housing. Treatment with TUL at the time of movement to group housing had a beneficial effect on the health and performance through the prevention of BRD in dairy calves with no prior history of the disease. Moreover, BRD after movement to group housing after weaning had a significant effect on the growth of dairy calves.