A Foundation for Cattle Health: Nutrition, Vaccines and Dewormers

Management : Cow & Calf

Management : Weaned Calf

Nutrition : Supplements

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Purina Animal Nutrition

Evaluate your herd health protocol to determine if your cattle are set up for success, or if a foundational element is missing.

Did you know, nutrition can impact the effectiveness of health protocols, including vaccinations and dewormers? It’s true. In fact, it’s often said that without quality nutrition, there’s no foundation for a health program to be built upon.
Feeding cattle to a high plane of nutrition helps ensure vaccine and dewormer investments pay off. When cattle receive proper nutrition, the immune system will have energy to function optimally which can help the effectiveness of vaccines and dewormers.
When a disease challenge occurs, the immune system is activated, and it requires an extraordinary amount of energy to function. On a lower plane of nutrition, the immune system may have suboptimal function in cattle, leaving little reserves to devote to growth and other maintenance functions. Higher planes of nutrition can help cattle to maintain growth, even in the face of a disease challenge.  
Consult your veterinarian to develop a health protocol tailored to local challenges and your needs.

Here are a few considerations when evaluating your current cattle health protocol:

Plane of nutrition

The foundation of any health protocol should be built on feeding cattle to a high plane of nutrition and ensuring calves have been through a 45-day preconditioning program. Covering these basics can help you realize the monetary benefit of healthy cattle.
Feeding calves a high-quality starter feed at weaning provides an adequate baseline for nutrition. All Purina® starter feeds deliver a high plane of nutrition. And, they contain RX3® Immune Support Technology to help prepare calves’ natural defenses and optimize their response to stress and health challenges.
In a cow herd, maintaining a quality nutrition program with year-round Purina® Wind and Rain® Mineral and supplemental feeds when needed will keep those animals in the best shape for optimal immune function.


A general vaccination program could include coverage against the following diseases:
Viral Pathogens
  • Infectious bovine rhinotracheitis virus (IBRV)
  • Bovine viral diarrhea virus (BVDV) – types I and II
  • Bovine respiratory syncytial virus (BRSV)
  • Parainfluenza-3 virus (PI-3V)
Bacterial Pathogens
  • Mannheimia haemolytica 
  • Pasteurella multocida
  • Clostridium
  • Leptospirosis (cows)
  • Vibriosis (cows)
Most protocols call for administration of the first round of cattle vaccines at two to three months of age, with a booster vaccination at weaning. However, this isn’t always the case and is typically dependent on when a producer handles calves.
Try to avoid adding extra events to vaccinate calves. Eliminating the number of stress events will help optimize the effectiveness of the cattle vaccines and increases compliance. Vaccinate calves coinciding with cow vaccination schedules or during herd events, such as branding, weaning or pregnancy checks. 
Regular cow vaccinations and boosters can also support your calves’ passive immunity by improving the quality of antibodies passed through colostrum.
Adhere to the manufacturer’s label recommendations when administering cattle vaccines and boosters. Straying from the recommended timing and dosage can compromise protection and nullify manufacturer guarantees.

Cattle Dewormer

There are more options than ever to safely and effectively deworm cattle. Oral drenches, pour-ons and injectables are the traditional methods. Feed-through products like blocks and pellets are newer alternatives to control worms. 
Management style often drives which type of dewormer you use. If you handle cattle more regularly through a chute, oral drenches and injectables may be the best fit. Otherwise, a feed-through product may be a solution for your operation when cattle don’t frequently go through a chute. 
When selecting a cattle dewormer, know the active ingredient for the parasiticide. The following parasiticides are available: 
  • Moxidectin
  • Fenbendazole
  • Eprinomectin
  • Doramectin
  • Ivermectin
  • Oxfendazole
  • Albendazole
The parasiticide you choose is dependent on which species of worm you have locally. Your veterinarian can help determine which mode of action works best for your herd.
Resistance is a concern in nearly all classes of dewormers. Implementing a few different strategies can help improve program efficacy.

Here are a few additional cattle deworming tips:

  • Use the proper dosage: Underdosing and overdosing a cattle dewormer can result in ineffective control or development of resistance, respectively. Always follow label recommendations.
  • Rotate dewormers: Using different worm control classes helps reduce resistance by changing which ingredients the worms are exposed to. 
  • Rotate pastures:  Rotating cattle amongst pastures spreads manure to other parts of the farm or ranch, rather than concentrating the manure’s worm load in one pasture and increasing the spread among the herd. 
  • Implement refugia: Refugia is a strategy where you leave certain cattle untreated, so worms have a refuge animal to go to within the herd. It decreases the selection pressure of worms to particular dewormers. There are a few ways to manage refugia:
    • Deworming approximately 90% of the herd and leaving the other cattle untreated, known as selective non-treatment. As cattle age, they gain immunity to parasites, so older animals are good candidates for selective non-treatment. 
    • Only deworming when parasites are present. You might skip deworming when worm loads are lower, during the hottest time of the year in the South or during the coldest time of the year in the North. 
    • Deworming newly arriving cattle and not treating resident cattle when parasite loads are low. 
    • Not rotating dewormed cattle into a new pasture until they have had a chance to shed worms. 
If you feed a high plane of nutrition, but still see cattle dropping body condition, it could be a sign of a worm problem.
Your veterinarian can perform fecal egg counts to monitor worm burdens directly. If the tests show high egg counts, you might have a potential resistance issue and may need to try another deworming strategy.  

Set the foundation, stick to protocol

Cattle health programs don’t have to be too complex. Provide a foundation for health through quality nutrition and stick to the appropriate vaccines and dewormers as advised by your veterinarian. This strategy will go a long way when it comes to optimizing cattle health.
Does your nutrition program stack up? Find out with a Proof Pays trial.