Keeping the Cow Herd Healthy: Vaccines for the Cow

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Springtime is here and so is the time of year when we turn our cattle back out to pasture. You may have finished spring calving by now or are still waiting on a few more cows to calve. In a month or two, the bull will be turned back into the pasture with the cows to prepare for the spring cycle again next year. What pre-breeding vaccines do you administer to your cattle? Recommendations for pre-breeding vaccinations are Leptospirosis and a respiratory vaccine that includes IBR, BVD, P13, BRSV.

Leptospirosis is commonly shed through the urine of an infected animal and can be carried by wildlife including deer. It can also be transmitted through breeding animals. Leptospirosis can infect cattle at any age and can cause infertility in breeding stock. Older cattle can experience retained placentas if they are bred and able to deliver the calf. The calf may be born too early, stillborn, or weak at birth. Calves infected with Leptospirosis may have a high fever, anemia, and could die within a few days.

Respiratory vaccines such as IBR (Infectious Bovine Rhinotracheitis), BVD (Bovine Viral Diarrhea), P13 (Parainfluenza 3), and BRSV (Bovine Respiratory Syncytial Virus) will improve herd and reproductive health if cattle are vaccinated prior to breeding. IBR and BVD can cause costly abortions in cattle. Vaccinate at least 30 days ahead of turning the bull in with the cows.

Choosing a vaccine type for your farm is important. Regardless if you choose a modified live vaccine or a killed vaccine remember to follow the instructions on the label. Booster vaccines need to be given if the vaccine requires it on the label. If you are unsure if a modified live vaccine will work for you farm, Cooperative Extension will be happy to assist you with modified live vaccine labels. Prevention doesn’t cost as much as treatment. Treat your vaccines with care, not carelessness.

Lastly, while you have your cows up don’t forget to deworm and utilize a fly control.