Cattle Vaccinations

Herd health is dependent on a variety of factors, including their facilities, management practices, disease prevalence and herd nutritional levels. One way you can make a positive impact in your herd’s health is through the strategic use of vaccinations.

Each operation is unique, and what vaccinations are the right choice for your herd and when they should be administered requires a unique answer. There is no one-size-fits-all solution. With cattle being raised for different purposes and in different conditions, vaccine plans need to be customized to address the unique challenges to optimal health each herd faces at each stage of development. The right plan for a beef operation may not be optimal for a dairy farm, and plans may even differ between operations of the same type raising the same breed of cattle because there are differences in the herds’ risk factors.

Generally speaking, most cattle should be vaccinated to protect against clostridial and respiratory diseases. The clostridial vaccines are designed to provide protection against Clostridium chauveoi (blackleg), Clostridium septicum (malignant edema), Clostridium perfringens (enterotoxemia), Clostridium novyi (Black disease) and Clostridium sordellii (sudden death) and are often referred to as a 7-way or 8-way vaccine. Some of these vaccines also include protection against Clostridium hemolyticum (red water disease), but use of vaccines that include this strain is only warranted in areas where it is prevalent. The respiratory vaccines commonly protect against infectious bovine rhinotracheitis (IBR), bovine viral diarrhea (BVD), parainfluenza-3 (PI-3) and bovine respiratory syncytial virus (BRSV).

As if knowing what types of health threats to vaccinate against wasn’t enough, there are also options regarding how to vaccinate your herd. Vaccines come in at least two forms: modified live (MLV) and killed (KV). A modified live vaccine contains a small amount of the virus or bacteria that has been altered to allow it to replicate once administered and trigger an immune response, but not cause clinical disease. Killed vaccines are what they sound like: the organisms used in them cannot replicate. Additional substances are commonly used to trigger the desired immune response. Each type of vaccine has appropriate timing and situations for which it is the best choice, and knowing when and in what situations to use each type is our forte. We review all the variables when constructing a vaccination protocol for your herd to make sure you and your cattle get the maximum benefit and protection for your investment.

Controlling production health risks requires disease prevention. One of the best ways to control disease is by implementing and maintaining an appropriate vaccination plan that has taken into consideration the one-of-a-kind risks your herd faces. Your herd needs to be healthy to reach its full potential — vaccinations can help with that. If you do not currently have a customized vaccination protocol in place for your herd, or if your protocol needs reviewed, please contact our office to schedule an appointment.