Featured Video Play Icon

Video 44 Mycoplasma Bovis

Farmers and vets will be becoming more familiar with this pathogen. Mycoplasma Bovis is a bacteria causing a number of clinical symptoms in both beef and dairy herds.

In suckler herds, it is often around weaning time where I’m seeing it reported. Last year I had numerous conversations with farmers buying in weanlings where mycoplasma pneumonia was a real strong possibility. Bought in weanlings with pneumonia that were difficult to treat and some had joint issues as well. Watch the video as I discuss how this pathogen can spread in a herd.

In dairy cows, it can cause joint issues, mastitis, pneumonia, and other conditions. It can also really impact calf health and a problem I continually see arising in dairy to beef systems

Clinical symptoms

It is an unusual bacteria because it doesn’t have a cell wall making it difficult to treat or kill. Treatment success in clinical cases can be very variable. It seems to be increasingly prevalent in a lot of our herds and in combination with other respiratory problems.

It can avoid the immune system by creating its own biofilm (sticky protective layer). My experience Mycoplasma becomes active and shows clinical symptoms particularly during periods of stress.

With weanlings, this could be with weaning stress, transport going through marts, and arrival on a new farm. With many cases of bought in weanlings showing signs of pneumonia with poor responses to treatment. Some of these cases will also have issues with joint swelling and lameness. It is so important to investigate these cases.

In dairy farms, it is joint problems and mastitis are the big issues in cows. In calves, it can be pneumonia and all the issues with mycoplasma spreading in blood. Where we are getting calves with joint swellings and ear infections mycoplasma is a strong differential.

In heifers, it has also been indicated or said to be involved in disease-causing heifers to calve down with blind quarters. With any of these issues with so many potential infectious disease agents it is so important we strive to make a diagnosis.


Make a diagnosis

It is always worth finding out what the problem is? We can use a blood test to measure antibody levels. A new test called PCR (checking for the DNA) can be used on nasal swabs, milk, or in post mortems. Mycoplasma seems to have characteristic findings in the lungs on post mortem. However, it is always worth swabbing these lungs for PCR sampling.

We can take swabs of joints and lungs in any fallen animals where mycoplasma is suspected.


Mycoplasma control can be difficult and very frustrating during an outbreak. Watch the video above as I discuss potential outcomes to control strategies.

During an outbreak work closely with your vet around treatment options. There are a few antibiotics that will work against mycoplasma.

With mastitis and joint issues, the response to treatment can be very poor.

Cows with joint problems can resolve but they can take up to 3-4 weeks. During this time they will be in a lot of pain.

With the risk of these animals becoming carriers and shedding disease a culling policy must be implemented.

Feeding mastitic milk to calves is always a risky business. With mycoplasma, it is like playing with fire, with calves potentially becoming infected and then shedding the disease to other calves in fomites.

There is currently no licensed vaccine in Europe. Some farms have made autogenous vaccines with very mixed reports of success. For some farms, they may be the only option as part of a control program.

In young calves, all the basics of calf pneumonia must be dealt with when dealing with a Mycoplasma outbreak. Watch here for some tips from an earlier video on calf pneumonia https://youtu.be/-6uCRaI6BqI


Thought for the day

Those who say they can and those who they say they can’t are both usually right!


Huge thanks to Nettex, Progiene, and Rumenco for their support in putting #50in50 together for more information click here https://www.net-tex.co.uk/products/cattle-calves/calf-colostrums-product-range/calf-colostrum-gold


Leave a Reply

Notify of