Proper vaccinations important for replacement heifers
Cattlemen in Ellis County and the area recently gathered for a program titled "Transition of the Heifer into Your Herd." Extension Beef DVM Larry Hollis had some interesting data and accompanying discussion about scours management, the effect of time of colostrum feeding to newborn calves and vaccination of cows and bulls pre-breeding.
Unfortunately, he ran out of time before he could discuss vaccinations of replacement heifers.
With the aid of Hollis' slides, I will do my best to present his information on vaccinating heifers. Of course this information is not applicable now, as most have started calving season, but you could store this information back for later use, and as always, I would recommend you consult with your local veterinarian as vaccination time nears.
At branding time, it is recommended to give all calves a seven-way Clostridial product.
It is recommended to vaccinate potential replacement heifer calves three weeks prior to weaning and again at weaning, or at weaning and again three weeks later with a modified live vaccine of IBR-BVD-PI3-BRSV (type 1 and 2) vaccine, a seven-way Clostridial (Blackleg) product, and Bangs vaccine. A Mannheimia/Pasteurella bacterin/leukotoxoid product also should be given at the time of the first MLV vaccination. When it is safe to use MLV depends on how your cow herd has been vaccinated. Do not turn MLV vaccinated calves back in with non-vaccinated pregnant cows. You also should deworm and test for BVD PI at the time of the first MLV vaccination because there might be carrier cows within the herd that are persistently infected with BVD, and only testing will reveal that. The reason an MLV is recommended is that it goes to work much faster than a killed vaccine, provides better cross-protection, and will endure a stronger challenge if it occurs.
For those heifers that will be kept back for replacement females, it is recommended at 60 days pre-breeding to give another booster of MLV IBR, BVD (type 1 and 2), Campylobacter fetus (Vibrio), Lepto (hardjo-bovis and pomona) and to repeat Vibrio and Lepto three weeks later.
My fingers are tired from typing all of this, and I suspect you will be tired too from working your replacement heifers through the chute several times over in a one-year period. However considering the price of bred heifers and cows, cutting corners can cost you in the long-run, and as Hollis said at the program "heifer development sets the future for your cow herd."
Hollis cautioned when using MLV vaccines or any other vaccine, wormer or medicine, proper storing and handling is very important. If this piece of the puzzle is done incorrectly, these products might be rendered ineffective. It is imperative you read and follow the label directions on storage and administration of the vaccine, and this includes at chute-side.
Most animal health products require refrigeration at 35 to 45 degrees Fahrenheit. Therefore, for most folks, it is advisable only to purchase vaccines you can use within a few days. It is advisable to check the temperature of the refrigerator the vaccine will be stored in to make sure it is operating and consistently maintaining the proper temperature range.
Once MLVs are activated (made into a solution through the addition of the appropriate liquid), they need to be used within one hour and kept cool at the recommended temperature on the label at chute side. As soon as this type of vaccine is reconstituted, the viral particles come to life and then gradually start to die. If you take too long to use the product after reconstitution, enough viral particles might die to make the vaccine ineffective.
To keep the vaccine cool, keep it in a cooler next to the chute and out of the sun to prevent premature warming of the cooler and UV damage to the vaccine. Also, keep syringes out of the sunlight. Sunlight will kill the vaccine in the syringe if left exposed for more than a few minutes. A cardboard box with the open side facing away from the sun will help shade the syringe. Knowing and observing product handling guidelines can ensure animal health products work properly.
You can contact your local K-State Research & Extension county office for a publication on proper cattle health product handling and administration, or find it at www.ksre.ksu.edu/bookstore.
Stacy Campbell is agriculture Extension agent in Ellis County.