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© 1993, The Board of Regents of the University of Nebraska on behalf of the University of Nebraska–Lincoln Extension. All rights reserved.


This NebGuide gives guidelines for identifying sick cattle in feedlots.

Pneumonia is the biggest killer of newly weaned cattle. Many factors influence the outcome of the disease, but one of the most important is finding the sick cattle and starting treatment early.

Finding sick cattle early in the course of the disease can be one of the toughest jobs any of us has. The necropsies and treatment records of thousands of cattle have shown that appropriate therapy started within the first 48 hours of the onset of pneumonia will improve a sick feedlot animal's chance of survival.

The most important early symptom associated with pneumonia is appetite depression. To observe this symptom, cattle should have protection from the environment, plenty of pen and bunk space, and cattle checkers must have plenty of time early in the morning to observe cattle. Never bite off more than you can chew or more than your pens can handle.