Some preliminary observations on the possible relationship between ammonia production from soiled bedding in calf rearing sheds and calf illness

Some preliminary observations on the possible relationship between ammonia production from soiled bedding in calf rearing sheds and calf illness
Peer reviewed

Abstract

A limited field study of covered facilities used for raising dairy calves suggested that respiratory disorders and death rates were highest when calves were continuously housed on bedding composed of wood shavings, where ventilation was poor and where automatic feeders were installed. High concentrations of ammonia were found in the urine-soaked bedding following overnight incubation. A prolific growth of mixed micro-organisms isolated from the shavings rapidly colonised plates of selective urea medium. Death rates of 10% and 13.5% were observed on two properties. Respiratory distress was common and lung disease was intractable to treatment on these farms. A histopathological diagnosis of subacute purulent pneumonia with distal necrotising bronchiolitis was made, similar to lung lesions produced experimentally in cats, guinea pigs and rabbits exposed to ammonia gas.

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