Herd-level animal management factors associated with the occurrence of bovine neonatal pancytopenia in calves in a multi-country study
Since 2007, mortality associated with a previously unreported haemorrhagic disease has been observed in young calves in several European countries. The syndrome, which has been named ‘bovine neonatal pancytopenia’ (BNP), is characterised by thrombocytopenia, leukocytopenia and a panmyelophthisis. A herd-level case-control study was conducted in four BNP affected countries (Belgium, France, Germany and the Netherlands) to identify herd management risk factors for BNP occurrence. Data were collected using structured face-to-face and telephone interviews of farm managers and their local veterinarians. In total, 363 case farms and 887 control farms were included in a matched multivariable conditional logistic regression analysis. Case-control status was strongly associated with the odds of herd level use of the vaccine PregSure® BVD (PregSure, Pfizer Animal Health) (matched adjusted odds ratio (OR) 107.2; 95% CI: 41.0–280.1). This was also the case for the practices of feeding calves colostrum from the calf’s own dam (OR 2.0; 95% CI: 1.1–3.4) or feeding pooled colostrum (OR 4.1; 95% CI: 1.9–8.8). Given that the study had relatively high statistical power and represented a variety of cattle production and husbandry systems, it can be concluded with some confidence that no other herd level management factors are competent causes for a sufficient cause of BNP occurrence on herd level. It is suggested that genetic characteristics of the dams and BNP calves should be the focus of further investigations aimed at identifying the currently missing component causes that together with PregSure vaccination and colostrum feeding represent a sufficient cause for occurrence of BNP in calves.