Detecting illness early on in calves can be challenging. Making treatment decisions early, however, can make a difference in the animal’s health. Terri Ollivett, an associate professor at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, says lung ultrasounds are a critical tool in detecting respiratory diseases as early as possible. Lung ultrasounds can identify and track bovine respiratory disease (BRD) in calves who aren’t showing any symptoms. Routine scanning can also reveal at what age calves are getting sick with BRD to evaluate the efficacy of treatments.

While lung ultrasounds can be overwhelming to those considering the practice, Ollivett offers four tips to help farms get started.

1. Scan weaning-age calves to see what percentage have pneumonia at the start of weaning. Aim for less than 15%.
2. Scan calves at the start of BRD treatment.
3. Scan calves 7 – 10 days after treatment to determine if protocols are working.
4. Use the 12 x 7 model for scanning calves. Scan groups of 12 at seven-day intervals at seven days old, 14 days old and so on.

Read more on lung ultrasounds for healthy calves here.