Adsa Logo White Adsa Title White

Evaluating the use of pulse oximetry, lactate levels, and lung ultrasounds in predicting respiratory illness in dairy calves.

M. Hillis

Abstract:

9
Evaluating the use of pulse oximetry, lactate levels, and lung ultrasounds in predicting respiratory illness in dairy calves.
M. Hillis*, M. Gray, J. Bohlen. Animal and Dairy Science, University of Georgia Athens, GA.

The future productivity of a dairy operation is found in the calf barn. Growth and health of dairy calves represent a large expense to dairy producers but one, if done correctly, will provide dividends when lactation begins. The most commonly cited health issues in dairy calves are scours and respiratory diseases with the latter at times being the more elusive to identify. The objective of this study was to investigate new methodologies to ascertain calves at risk for respiratory diseases as well as accurately diagnosing respiratory illnesses. For this study we evaluated Holstein calves (n = 12) for blood lactate levels and pulse oximetry within 6 h of calving and then at 24 h intervals until 3 d of age to assess animals potentially predisposed to respiratory issues. Research shows correlation between high lactate concentrations and neonatal asphyxia in cases of dystocia, while pulse oximetry has long been used as an indicator of respiratory distress in humans and small mammals. Lung ultrasounds, using the 6-point ultrasound lung lesion scoring system, were performed on Holstein heifer calves (n = 15) weekly to identify emerging respiratory issues. Auxiliary health data such as dystocia score, weight, height, and signs of respiratory illness according to the Wisconsin Respiratory Scoring System was also collected. Lactate levels ranged from 4 — 5.2 mmol/L while pulse oximetry ranged from 84 to 98% spO2. Lactate and oxygen saturation were not associated with dystocia score (P > 0.05) nor correlated to incidence of respiratory distress or growth rate of calves (P > 0.05). Only one issue of respiratory distress was identified according to lung ultrasounds and respiratory scoring system thus no conclusive data may be elucidated from this part of the study. Limited respiratory illnesses in the current study impeded the ability to collect worthwhile data related to early and accurate identification of respiratory disorders. However, information regarding methodologies for lung ultrasound and how to use pulse oximetry in calves may prove useful in communications with producers.

Keywords: lung ultrasound, calves, respiratory.