It's Fall Vaccination Time!

Published on: 18:19PM Oct 22, 2010

Weaning time in cow-calf country means FALL VACCINATION TIME!

This can be a stressful time for the cow, the calf and the farmer/rancher.  

The main objective of your fall vaccination program is to prevent Year-Round IBR & BVD. 

Not try and treat it when it rears its ugly head at the most in-opportune time!

Common Diseases of Cattle


This is one of the most costly diseases for cattle producers. Signs may include scours, nasal discharge, coughing and fever. BVD can also cause infertility, abortion and birth defects. Type 2 BVD can cause hemorrhaging and death in susceptible young calves and adult cows.

Bovine Respiratory Disease Complex (BRDC)

Also know as "Shipping Fever", BRDC is a general term for the pneumonia commonly seen in recently weaned calves. Stress is a major contributor to BRDC. Events such as weaning (which we spoke about in last week’s blog), dehorning, shipping and weather changes like what we’re all experiencing now, can compromise the animal’s immune system, making it susceptible to disease-causing viruses and bacteria. Stress cannot be eliminated entirely from the cow/calf operation, but it can be reduced considerably through careful handling and ensuring sanitary conditions.

Some important considerations when planning Fall Vaccinations include:

PREGNANCY - DO NOT use a "Modified Live Virus" vaccine in pregnant cows or heifers because abortions most likely will result.   The loss of a calf will on average, take the next 6 YEARS to make up for the profit potential loss!  This is the one part of your operation where you have the power to control mortality.  Read all vaccine labels.  When in doubt, call your vet!

CURRENT HEALTH OF THE COW/HEIFER - If using a "Modified Live Virus" vaccine, only administer the vaccine in healthy cows/heifers prior to breeding as an aid in preventing abortion caused by IBR.


CATTLE AGE – Breeding age and bred cattle can always be safely vaccinated with "Killed vaccines".

Breeding age cattle and heifer calves that are 5 – 6 months of age that haven’t been previously vaccinated will need 2 doses, 2 – 4 weeks apart.  If you are unable to age group vaccinate, an alternative is to catch-up heifers every spring and fall (April & October).

DURATION of IMMUNITY – claimed by any vaccine represents the absolute maximum window of protection you should expect. For the optimal immune response, vaccinate as close to 30 days prior to breeding as you can.   Just because you can vaccinate up to a year ahead of breeding doesn’t necessarily mean you should. If a vaccine is labeled for 365 days of fetal protection, it has met minimum standards set by the USDA to obtain that label.  It doesn’t necessarily mean the immune response is the same on the 364th day following vaccination as it is on the 3rd. Even the manufacturer’s own trial work that supports the product’s USDA license will show the protection begins to lessen as time passes.

SYNOPSIS - Vaccinate breeding heifers with two or more doses of modified live BVD vaccine

at least 30 days before breeding season.

Vaccinate all mature cows annually.  Preferably, prior to the start of the breeding season.

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