Pneumonia Vaccination in Dairy Heifer Calves

Protecting your dairy heifer calves from respiratory disease is vital when considering the future productivity of your herd. The foundation of every calf’s lifetime performance begins at birth. A calf that doesn’t grow efficiently in the first few weeks of life may never catch-up.

Direct links have been shown between calves contracting pneumonia and growth rates, age at first calving1, first2,3 and second lacation4 milk yield and longevity in the dairy herd3.

It is estimated that 67% of pneumonia cases occur in calves less than 3 months of age5. One UK study found that on average 14.5% of live born dairy heifers fail to reach their first lactation, with pneumonia the biggest known cause of mortality in calves aged one to six months6.

The first few months of life represent a period when dairy heifer calves are particularly susceptible to respiratory disease, with contributing risk factors including;

  • Feeding of insufficient or poor-quality colostrum
  • Inadequate housing with poor ventilation (increasing pathogen load) or conversely exposure to draughts resulting potentially in cold stress; high humidity from damp, inadequately drained beds; sharing airspace with older animals (such as the adult cows)
  • Feeding insufficient milk replacer
  • Stress from weaning and grouping

Vaccination options

Introducing a respiratory vaccination programme alongside good management practices can help safeguard your calves and their future productivity.

Vaccination can be introduced from a young age to ensure calves are protected during the first few months when they are particularly vulnerable to disease. Each vaccination programme will be farm specific and should be discussed with your vet, who will take into consideration factors such as the age of calves to be protected, the respiratory pathogens present (or most likely to be present) on your farm, and the length of protection required.

Here are some examples;

Option 1 - Rapid Onset Protection

Product: Rispoval® IntraNasal
Protects against: BRSv and PI3v
Length of protection: 3 months

To protect dairy calves during their most vulnerable period (the first 12 weeks of life) Rispoval IntraNasal can be used from just 9 days of age. As a single-dose vaccine given up the nose, it works rapidly, protecting calves within just 5 days* and providing 12 weeks cover from BRSv and Pi3v.

The key benefit of Rispoval IntraNasal is the speed with which it gets to work; a priority in these young vulnerable calves. The duration of protection is sufficient to cover the important first three months of life.

Option 2 – Longer Protection Required?

Product: Rispoval® IntraNasal plus Rispoval® IBR Marker Live**
Protects against: BRSv, PI3v and IBR
Length of protection: 6 months+

If your vet determines that protection against BRSv and Pi3v needs to be extended beyond 12 weeks (due for example to increased risk from calves moving holdings at 3-4 months of age) you can extend protection against BRSv and Pi3v to six months by administering a further dose of Rispoval IntraNasal 12 weeks after the initial dose. IBR assumes greater importance in the older calf, and where protection against IBR is required, a single dose of Rispoval IBR Marker Live will provide 6 months cover.


Product: Rispoval® IntraNasal followed by Rispoval® 4
Protects against: BRSv, PI3v, IBR and BVDv
Length of protection: 9 months

This option applies where longer duration protection along with BVDv cover is required. The programme starts, as previously, with Rispoval Intranasal from 9 days of age, to provide rapid, early protection and 12 weeks cover against BRSv and Pi3v. From 3 months of age, a follow-on course of 2 doses of Rispoval 4, given 3-4 weeks apart, will provide a further 6 months of protection against BRSv and Pi3v and also against IBR and BVDv. IBR becomes more relevant in the older calf, and BVDv cover ensures that calves are protected against the immunosuppressive effects of this virus which are well known for increasing the risk and severity of respiratory disease on farm.

Whichever vaccination programme your vet decides is most appropriate, the objective is the same; invest in calf health now, to maximise production in the future.

* against BRSv
** No information is available on the safety and efficacy of concurrent use of Rispoval® IntraNasal with Rispoval® IBR-Marker Live. The decision regarding timing of administration of either vaccine should be made by the prescribing veterinary surgeon.


1. VAN DER FELS-KLERX, H.J. et al. (2002) Livestock Production Science 75, 157-1661
2. BACH, A. (2012) J Anim Sci 90, 1835-1845.
3. Morrison, S. (2013) Veterinary Ireland Journal Vol 3 (5) 264-268
4. BACH, A. (2011) J Dairy Sci 94 (2), 1052-1057
5. ZOETIS market research (2006)
6. BRICKELL, J.S. et al. (2009) Animal 3(8), 1175-1182

Rispoval® RS+PI3 IntraNasal contains modified live Bovine PI3 virus, ts strain RLB103 and modified live BRSV, strain 375 (POM-V) Rispoval® 4 contains attenuated BRSV strain 375 and PI3V ts strain with inactivated, adjuvanted IBR strain Cooper and BVDv Type 1 viruses cytopathic strain 5960 and non-cytopathic strain 6309 minimum. (POM-V) Rispoval® IBR-Marker Live contains attenuated gE negative BHV-1 strain Difivac (POM-V)

Further information is available from the Summary of Product Characteristics or please contact your veterinary surgeon or Zoetis UK Ltd, Walton Oaks, Tadworth, Surrey KT20 7NS. Customer Support 0845 Use medicines responsibly ( Date of Preparation: Aug18 MM03775