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 calving 1,4, first 1,2,3 and second lactation4 milk yield and longevity in the dairy herd4.

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: 12 weeks


vaccination pneumonia


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 12 weeks of life.

Option 2: Longer Protection Required?

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


Pneumonia vaccination


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 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.

Option 3: Longer Protection with BVDv Cover Required?

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


Pneumonia vaccination


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 PI3 virus, strain ts RLB103 and modified live BRSV, strain 375. For the active immunisation of MDA positive or negative calves from 9 days of age against BRSV and PI3 virus, to reduce the mean titre and duration of excretion of both viruses POM-V

Rispoval® 4 contains attenuated BRSV strain 375 and PI3 virus strain ts RLB103 with inactivated, adjuvanted IBR virus strain Cooper and BVDV type 1 strains 5960 (cytopathic) and 6309 (non-cytopathic). For the active immunisation of cattle to reduce infection, clinical signs and respiratory disease caused by BRSV, IBR (BHV-1) virus and PI3 virus; and leucopenia and viraemia caused by the BVDV Type 1, cytopathic and non-cytopathic strains POM-V 

Rispoval® IBR-Marker Live contains attenuated gE negative BHV-1 strain Difivac. For the active immunisation of cattle to reduce the clinical signs of IBR, reduce virus shedding and to reduce BHV-1 associated abortions POM-V

Further information can be obtained from your vet or the product SPC or from Zoetis UK Ltd, First Floor, Birchwood Building, Springfield Drive, Leatherhead KT22 7LP •

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