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Complete the immunity equation

August 26, 2013
POSTED BY: Greg Edwards | DVM | Managing Veterinarian | Dairy Technical Services | Zoetis

The goal of any vaccination program is to help protect cattle from costly respiratory and reproductive diseases. For the best chance of successful immunization, work with your veterinarian and train employees to establish and implement a vaccination program that is tailored to your herd.

Often, dairy producers mistake vaccination with immunization. However, to achieve immunity, you must choose the correct vaccine, then handle and administer it properly to help build the animal’s immunity against damaging diseases.

Take these key steps to ensure proper immunization:

  • Identify diseases and risk: Understand the respiratory and reproductive disease risks — regionally and on individual operations. Assess your level of risk aversion and evaluate the cost of disease incidence to your bottom line and animal wellness.
  • Proper timing: Vaccine administration should be timed to adequately establish protection before cattle are most susceptible to disease. The best time for vaccination is when nutrition is optimal, stress levels are low, ambient temperature isn’t too high (greater than 85°F) and the cow or calf is primed for a positive immunological response. For effective immunity, revaccinate as directed on the label.
  • Vaccine administration: Vaccines must be administered properly for optimum effectiveness, as well as to comply with Beef Quality Assurance (BQA) protocols. Veterinarians can offer training on best practices for intramuscular, subcutaneous or intranasal administration. They also can show how to choose proper needle size and length.
  • Handling: Vaccines should be stored according to label indications and used prior to expiration date. Since heat, freezing and extreme changes in temperature can reduce vaccine potency, vaccines must be kept cool and out of direct sunlight.

Follow these guidelines to get the most protection possible out of your vaccines.

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