Management : Weaned Calf

Management : Grower & Finisher

Cattle

Tips for Your Cattle Vaccine Program

John H. Mahoney

John H. Mahoney

DVM - Director of Veterinary Services

Proper cattle vaccination protocols are critical to any herd health program.

Most livestock managers know that, and yet human error is the most common cause of vaccine failure in non-stressed cattle. Take time to prepare and follow proper vaccine protocols. 
  • Always read and follow label directions to ensure vaccines are administered at the recommended dose and route - in a site that minimizes carcass defects - and follow recommendations for proper intervals between vaccinations.
  • If you are administering multiple vaccines, never mix two different products in one syringe.
  • Clean and sanitize your equipment before each use. Water heated to 180 degrees Fahrenheit should be used to clean pistol grip syringes. After washing, ensure syringes are free from residual disinfectant that may inactivate vaccines, and replace your needles after 10 to 15 injections.
  • Follow vaccine storage best practices by avoiding exposure to direct sunlight or freezing temperatures. Most vaccines should be stored at 40 to 50 degrees Fahrenheit and should be kept in an insulated cooler during administration.
  • Vaccines shouldn’t be saved. Only purchase quantities that can be used completely at one time.
  • If using modified live vaccines, administer within one hour of opening the bottle.
There are two basic strategies for vaccine schedules: vaccinate calves two to four weeks before weaning with a booster administered at weaning, or administer the first vaccine at weaning with a booster given two to four weeks later. No matter the vaccination schedule, the key to successfully immunizing your calves is to administer vaccines during periods of minimal stress. This will ensure the immune system can respond successfully to the vaccines.
 
Stressors can include weather or temperature extremes, disease and parasite challenges, transportation and commingling. Implementing an excellent calf nutritional program will also ensure that calves have the necessary nutrients available for proper immune function.
 
Plan now to combat weaning-time stress with these cattle weaning tips.