dairy respiratory health
Brown and white dairy cow

Respiratory Health

Don’t Let Bovine Respiratory Disease Go After Your Cattle. Or Your Bottom Line.

Bovine respiratory disease (BRD) can be frustrating for dairy producers for a number of reasons. The multitude of factors that contribute to the disease can make it difficult to prevent or manage. And BRD can lead to significant economic losses:

  • In nationwide surveys, it’s estimated that 12% to 16% of preweaned calves and 6% to 11% of weaned calves experience BRD1
  • It’s the No. 1 cause of mortality in preweaned and weaned dairy calves, with death losses of 2.3% and 1.5%, respectively2
  • Respiratory problems account for approximately 11.3% of adult dairy cow deaths3

Help protect your investment by working with your veterinarian on a BRD prevention protocol, and stay current on the most recent BRD information.

Bovine Respiratory Disease (BRD)

What is bovine respiratory disease (BRD)?

  • Any disease of the upper and/or lower respiratory tracts
  • Also known as shipping fever 

Cattle affected

  • Most commonly occurs in preweaned and weaned dairy calves (enzootic calf pneumonia)

Disease development

  • A multifactorial etiology that may include viruses, bacteria, host immunity, environmental stressors, nutrition and more
  • Typically, stress and other factors predispose the animal to infection
  • The lining of the respiratory tract may be damaged by viruses such as:
    • Bovine viral diarrhea virus (BVDV) Types 1a, 1b and 2
    • Infectious bovine rhinotracheitis (IBR) caused by bovine herpesvirus-1 (BHV-1)
    • Bovine respiratory syncytial virus (BRSV)
    • Parainfluenza 3 (Pl3) virus
  • Viral damage opens the door for bacteria to invade the lungs:
    • Mannheimia haemolytica
    • Pasteurella multocida
    • Histophilus somni
    • Mycoplasma bovis

Clinical signs

  • Severity of signs can vary, depending on the organism(s) involved, but may include:
    • Labored breathing
    • Nasal discharge
    • Coughing
    • Reduced food and water intake
    • Fever, depression
    • Reluctance to move


  • Physical examination
  • Culture and antibiotic sensitivity, tissue analysis or advanced diagnostics


  • Identify and treat sick calves early for best outcomes
  • Work with your veterinarian to choose the right antibiotic
  • Monitor outcomes and refine protocols with your veterinarian


  • Vaccinating the dam to help her produce good-quality colostrum
  • Vaccinating calves to help build immunity

Important Safety Information

BIO-MYCIN IMPORTANT SAFETY INFORMATION: When administered to cattle, muscle discoloration may necessitate trimming of the injection site(s) and surrounding tissues during the dressing procedure. Discontinue treatment at least 28 days prior to slaughter. Milk taken from animals during treatment and for 96 hours after the last treatment must not be used for food. Rapid intravenous administration may result in animal collapse. Product should be administered intravenously slowly over a period of at least 5 minutes. Exceeding labeled dose or more than 10 mL per site may result in antibiotic residues beyond the withdrawal period. Reported adverse reactions may be attributed to anaphylaxis or to cardiovascular collapse of unknown cause.

POLYFLEX RESIDUE WARNING: Do not treat cattle for more than 7 days. Milk from treated cows must not be used for food during treatment, and for 48 hours (4 milkings) after the last treatment. Cattle must not be slaughtered for food during treatment, and for 144 hours (6 days) after the last treatment.

ZACTRAN IMPORTANT SAFETY INFORMATION: For use in cattle only. Do not treat cattle within 35 days of slaughter. Because a discard time in milk has not been established, do not use in female dairy cattle 20 months of age or older, or in calves to be processed for veal. The effects of ZACTRAN on bovine reproductive performance, pregnancy and lactation have not been determined. Subcutaneous injection may cause a transient local tissue reaction in some cattle that may result in trim loss of edible tissues at slaughter. NOT FOR USE IN HUMANS. KEEP OUT OF REACH OF CHILDREN.

Cattle Respiratory Resources and Education

Pneumonia Can Strike at Every Age on the Dairy

“In the dairy world, we tend to think of respiratory disease as a post-weaning event, but its reach goes much further than that,” said Mark van der List, DVM, Boehringer Ingelheim.


Turn the Tide Against BRD by Improving Diagnostics and Treatment Protocols

There’s a growing amount of evidence that demonstrates the importance of identifying sick calves more accurately and earlier in the course of bovine respiratory disease (BRD). If producers are not paying close attention, they can lose calves without recognizing the severity of the disease.

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All Dairy Cattle Products

Count on Boehringer Ingelheim for a wide array of products to help keep your dairy cattle in good health and at peak performance.

Guterbock WM. the impact of BRD: the current dairy experience. An Health Res Res 2014;15(2):130–134.
USDA APHIS – Veterinary Services, NAHMS. Dairy heifer raiser, 2011: A study of operations that specialize in raising dairy heifers.
USDA APHIS – Veterinary Services, NAHMS. Highlights of Dairy 2007, Part II: Changes in the U.S. Dairy Cattle Industry, 1991–2007.


BIO-MYCIN®, EXPRESS®, TRIANGLE®, POLYFLEX®, PRESPONSE®, PRISM® and PYRAMID® are registered trademarks of Boehringer Ingelheim Animal Health USA Inc. ZACTRAN® is a registered trademark of the Boehringer Ingelheim Group. ©2021 Boehringer Ingelheim Animal Health USA Inc., Duluth, GA. All Rights Reserved. US-BOV-0615-2021