Diseases

All about
Pneumonia

Read the most important facts about pneumonia in dairy cows and learn how you can avoid the severe consequences of this disease for herd health and your farm’s success with smaXtec.
As a respiratory disease in dairy cows, pneumonia occurs frequently throughout the entire lifespan of the animal and can have severe consequences, making it one of the most economically significant diseases in dairy farming.

The reason lies in the anatomical structure of the cows’ lungs. In addition, lung diseases are often triggered by a wide variety of factors. Thus, viral respiratory diseases can also weaken the organism and later trigger bacterial diseases of the respiratory tract.

If the symptoms of pneumonia, such as increased temperature, nasal discharge or coughing, remain undetected or are not treated until it is too late , the disease can develop into chronic pneumonia. In this case, there is a risk of permanent lung damage, which can lead to a permanent reduction in performance and, in particularly severe cases, to the death of the animal.

In addition to stress factors such as transport or mixing of groups, the barn climate, air quality, and drafts in the barn can also affect respiratory health.

Economic impact of pneumonia

According to scientific literature, the average morbidity rate for pneumonia usually is 3 – 8% of the herd. Considerable costs of about € 300,- per individual case of pneumonia can arise, so that the follow-up costs for a herd of 100 animals can be over EUR 2.400,- per year.
Breakdown of cost for pneumonia
  • Treatment cost, vet bills, medication: € 80,-
  • Milk loss per individual case: about 200kg or € 78,-
  • Extended calving interval: € 50,-
  • Replacement cost: € 75
  • Additional labour & time: € 18,-


This results in total costs of € 301 per case of disease. According to surveys among smaXtec customers, a reduction in disease costs of almost 40% can be achieved with the smaXtec system. This corresponds to a cost reduction of € 117.50 per disease case.

Detect pneumonia significantly earlier - thanks to smaXtec.

The treatment success of pneumonia depends to a large extent on the stage of the disease. It is therefore all the more important to detect the disease early and treat it quickly. With smaXtec, you can detect pneumonia at an early stage and reduce your costs noticeably.
Increased body temperature is one of the most important symptoms of pneumonia:
  • Persistent, sometimes high fever
  • Reduced feed intake
  • Nasal discharge
  • Increased respiratory rate, cough
  • Hanging head
The increase in inner body temperature is often the first sign of pneumonia and usually occurs several days before clinical signs such as a drop in milk or changed rumination patterns. Early detection makes earlier intervention possible and helps you reduce severe disease progression on your farm.
How do you detect pneumonia with the smaXtec system?
The smaXtec system detects even the smallest deviations from the animal’s normal temperature through its unique and continuous measurement of inner body temperature, as the bolus records the inner body temperature with the highest accuracy (± 0.01° C realtive accuracy).

Pneumonia usually is announced by an increased body temperature, although clinical signs often appear only after several days. Parameters such as rumination or milk yield are often still inconspicuous until then, making it all the more important to react quickly to the health alerts from the smaXtec system.

In this example curve, the clear fever episodes can be seen. Externally, nothing could be seen on the animal, but the farmer then informed the veterinarian. The vet was able to diagnose pneumonia and start appropriate treatment. A short time later, the cow was already on the road to recovery.

This is another great advantage of the continuous health monitoring with smaXtec, which allows both the disease and the recovery to be followed exactly: The curve shows clearly how the body temperature decreases again after longer periods of fever – a sign that the treatment is working.

Legend:
Green curve: rumination
Blue curve: inner body temperature
Black line: average inner body temperature of the animal
Red curve: activity levels
Red thermometer: Increased temperature alarm
Blue thermometer: Decreased temperature alarm 

What to do in in case of pneumonia?

We recommend that you observe the animals closely in the event of a temperature increase and look out for symptoms such as increased respiratory rate and nasal discharge. This way you can quickly and safely determine if the temperature change is due to pneumonia and call in a veterinarian if necessary.
Measures taken by our customers in case of pneumonia
  • Treatment with an anti-inflammatory
  • Observe animals carefully and react quickly in case of symptoms
  • Initiating appropriate therapy
  • Possibly use of decongestants and expectorants to help clear the respiratory tract

Subclinical courses are rather common, therefore a rapid response should be made in case of temperature alerts. Diseases triggered by viruses can occur in episodes, therefore the symptoms may disappear in the meantime. However, the disease may recur afterwards and with a much more severe progression.

Early treatment will prevent milk loss, permanent performance loss, and cow loss due to pneumonia.

How our customers benefit from early pneumonia detection?

As an organic farm, early detection of diseases is particularly important for us. smaXtec detects signs of pneumonia, for example, long before anything is visible on the outside of the cow. This allows us to treat animals at an early stage and prevent any losses.
Lorenz Erlacher, Farmer from Austria
Thanks to smaXtec, we have already detected pneumonia before it became acute. The cows were still eating normally, but the system already sent us a temperature alert. This allowed us to intervene at an early stage.
Manuela Zehendmaier, Farmer from Germany

You also want to detect and treat pneumonia earlier?

With the right technological support from smaXtec, detecting pneumonia earlier and improving animal health on the farm is very easy.

The result: profitable AND sustainable dairy farming!
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