Effective immunization programs in herd health

Vaccination programs are an important part of an effective herd health program It is important to pinpoint which disease are the most important to control

Immunizations are an integral part of an effective herd health program. Vaccinations help to curtail the emergence of disease and limit its spread from animal to animal. The goal of a vaccination program is to provide optimal protection against disease, which requires strategic planning. Certain diseases are more prevalent or damaging to young stock than mature cows, for example. Or, some diseases may only cause reproductive losses, and are of more concern for animals at breeding time. The assistance and input of a veterinarian, when designing a vaccination program for your herd, is important to help pinpoint which diseases are the most important to control and when.

Keep in mind that vaccinations are only one part of a comprehensive herd health program. They cannot compensate for an unsanitary environment, poor ventilation or existing poor health. Also note that one of the most common reasons vaccinations don’t work is the failure to administer a booster vaccine at the proper interval.

Vaccines are offered in two basic forms. They are either killed or modified live. Each type has both advantages and disadvantages. The main advantage of modified live vaccines (MLV) over killed vaccines (KV) is that MLV tends to produce a stronger immune response that persists for a longer period. Because the response is stronger, revaccination may not be required as frequently as with a KV.

On the other hand, MLV may cause clinical signs of disease in some animals or may cause pregnant animals to abort. KV are not capable of causing disease at all, so they are safer for all classes of livestock. Discuss with your veterinarian the best option for your specific herd.

The following charts summarize a recommended vaccination program for US dairy herds.

Table 1. Recommended vaccination schedule for dairy heifers from birth to 6 months of age.

Age  Disease Type of vaccine or therapy
0-6 hours    Colostrum
6 weeks  IBR-PI3-BVD-BRSV Clostridial spp.  Modified live vaccine7-way bacterin/toxoid
4-6 months Brucellosisa RB51
6 months IBR-PI3-BVD-BRSV Clostridial spp.Leptospirosis Modified live vaccine7-way bacterin/toxoid5-way bacterin

a Follow state and federal regulations: replacement heifers should receive immunization between 4 to 10 months at the owner’s discretion depending on marketing strategies.

Table 2. Recommended vaccination schedule for heifers pre-breeding to calving.

Age Disease Type of vaccine or therapy
Pre-breeding (10-12 months) IBR-PI3-BVD-BRSV
Leptospirosis
Clostridial spp.
Vibriosis (optional)
Killed or modified live vaccine
5-way bacterin
7-way bacterin/toxoid
Bacterin
40-60 days prior to calving  IBR-PI3-BVD-BRSV
Leptospirosis
Calf scours:
Rota and Corona
virus
E. coli + Clostridium
perfringens, type C & D
Killed vaccine
5-way bacterin Killed vaccine Bacterin/toxiod
3 weeks prior to calving Calf scours:
Rota and Corona virus
E. coli + Clostridium
perfringens, type C & D
Killed vaccine
Bacterin/toxiod
Follow label directions Coliform mastitis Bacterin

Table 3. Recommended vaccination schedule for adult dairy cattle

Age Disease Type of vaccine or therapy
40-60 days prior to calving IBR-PI3-BVD-BRSVa
Leptospirosisb
Vibriosis (optional)
Calf scours:
Rota and Corona virus
E. coli + Clostridium
perfringens, type C & D
Killed vaccine
5-way bacterin
Bacterin Killed vaccine
Bacterin/toxiod
3 weeks prior to calving Calf scours:
Rota and Corona
virus
E. coli + Clostridium
perfringens, type C & D
Killed vaccine
Bacterin/toxiod
Follow label directions Coliform mastitis Bacterin

a Annual booster is necessary

b Vaccination is recommended every six months in some areas.

Table 4. Recommended vaccination schedule for dairy herd bulls.

Age Disease Type of vaccine or therapy
Breeding
soundness
examination
IBR-PI3-BVDa
Leptospirosisa
Vibriosisa
Killed vaccine
5-way bacterin
Bacterin

a Annual booster is necessary

As a general rule, animals should not receive any other gram-negative vaccines, including Pasturella spp., Salmonella spp., Campylobacter sp., Haemophilis somnus, E. coli or Moraxella bovis within five days of any mastitis vaccines. In addition, any animals used for natural service should be vaccinated for Vibriosis.

Vaccination techniques

Using proper vaccination techniques is an important part of assuring successful immunization of cattle. The following are some guidelines for hygienic and safe vaccination.

  • Conduct the vaccination procedure under sanitary conditions
  • Change needles every 10 to 15 injections – OR- between cows if leukosis or other blood borne diseases are a herd problem
  • Don’t mix vaccines unless it is recommended by a veterinarian
  • Never put a needle that has been used in an animal back in the vaccine bottle
  • Sterilize needles and syringes with boiled water only (no disinfectants).
  • Always follow label directions
  • Use separate syringes for different products
  • Use correctly sized syringes and needles appropriate to the method of administration (18-16 gauge needles, ½” or ¾” for subcutaneous injections, 1” or 1 ½” for intramuscular injections).

Vaccination site selection is an important consideration as well. Whenever possible, administer the injection in front of the shoulder. IM injections should be approximately 2-3” below the top of the neck and 4-6” in front of the shoulder blade. Injection should be deep into the muscle tissue to help avoid irritation and scar tissue.

References:

Bovine Immunization Guidelines. 1993. JAVMA. 203:238:242

Related Links:

Health Management and Recommended Vaccinations for Dairy Replacements

Causes of Vaccination-Immunization Failures in Livestock

Care of Veterinary Vaccine Syringes

Understanding Vaccines

Dairy Preventive Herd Health Program (PHHP)

Dairy Herd Vaccination Programs

Vaccination and Medication Procedures for Cattle

Author

Jordana Calaman Suttmeier

Jordana Calaman Suttmeier
8 articles

Nutrition Support Specialist, F.A.R.M.E Institute, Inc., Homer, NY, USA

Ms. Suttmeier has been employed as a Nutrition Support Specialist at FARME Institute with primarily responsibility for conducting and reporting digestibility evaluations of farm forages, feedstuffs and forage hybrid tests.

Her Graduate Research Emphasis at the University of Vermont has been in the area of ruminant nutrition.

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F.A.R.M.E. Institute

F.A.R.M.E. Institute

FARME Institute's goal is to provide top quality, client-oriented, independent and confidential research and product development in ruminant nutrition.

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