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Take care in how you vaccinate cattle, vet says

Oregon State University Extension veterinarian helps ranchers understand best vaccination practices.

By Dean Rea

For the Capital Press

Published on January 11, 2014 6:27PM

Last changed on January 11, 2014 6:28PM


Charles "Chuck" Estill

Cattle producers should work with a veterinarian, extension agent or a knowledgeable source in establishing a vaccination program to help maintain a healthy herd, an Oregon State University Extension veterinarian suggests.

Charles “Chuck” Estill outlined a sample program recently during breakfast meetings with Lane, Linn and Benton county producers.

“We are stewards or caretakers of our cattle, and animal care includes protection from disease,” he said.

While he said he hears from about 1 percent of cattle producers in Oregon, he believes that most producers follow some sort of vaccination program.

“We cannot count on a vaccination program to ensure the health of an animal,” he said, adding that genetic selection, nutrition, colostrum and stress also are important factors.

Read the label on vaccines and be aware of what more than 200 vaccination combinations can contribute to maintaining a healthy herd, he said.

Few labels claim that a vaccine will prevent infection, Estill said in reviewing USDA standards. A product must be at least 80 percent effective if it is advertised as preventing disease,” he said.

“No vaccine is 100 percent effective, but if you can get 80 percent of the herd protected, it’s worth the investment,” he said.

Vaccines that claim to aid in disease prevention fall below the 80 percent mark, and the weakest claim is that a vaccine aids in disease control, Estill said. The latter means that an animal may get sick but not as sick at it would without the vaccine, he said.

It is important to know a herd’s history with a disease and to follow an immunization program, knowing that it requires three to 10 days for peak response after a vaccine is administered and to follow with a booster shot two to three weeks later.

Beware, too, that injections should be made four inches apart in front of an animal’s shoulder while avoiding the lymph node, to change a needle after it has been used on 10 to 12 animals and be careful in handling vaccines, keeping them cool and avoiding lengthy exposure to sunlight during the summer.

Reproductive disease prevention is the primary purpose for vaccinating in cowherds, Estill said. He recommended vaccinating every cow annually with IBR, BVDV and Lepto and pre-breeding with MLV and scours vaccines three to six weeks in the pre-calving period.

“Vaccine decisions are complicated,” Estill said. “Work closely with a veterinarian or a knowledgeable source and be aware that you don’t need to use all of the vaccines that are available.”


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