Vet’s Voice by Dr. Dave Barz: Prepping calves for the real world
Calving is rapidly progressing and most are having good success. In our area we have seen some large calves. It isn’t every calf, but now and then we get a very large one. Our C-section count seems to be about 25 percent higher than last year. We are unsure of the cause of the inconsistency, but it appears in previously used herd bulls and even calving ease AI sires. Last week we had several producers report respiratory problems in their 4-6 week old calves. Now is the time to plan and prepare for your pre-turnout vaccination program. This should minimize problems until your pre-weaning booster vaccinations.
Several considerations must be addressed in your selections:
1. Diseases of concern
Most of us have had respiratory problems during previous summers. Many of you vaccinated your cows at pregnancy checking with respiratory virus vaccines. This assures that the young calf acquires immunity for respiratory problems from the colostrum. In some herds the vaccines are boostered after birth, but most herds injectably vaccinate with live products at turn out or branding time. These vaccines are usually not too tough on the calf and cause very little injection site reaction.
Bacterial products are also used to prevent future problems.
· Clostridials – Black leg and overeating are common problems in our area. These are some of the first bacterins produced. Many of you give a first injection shortly after birth for early immunity. A booster is usually administered at turnout to gain enough immunity for the summer.
· Respiratory Bacterins – Pasturella & Mannhemia are common causes of problems. Some of you give these in combination with viruses. These products usually cause a little more stiffness in the calf and a low grade fever.
There are several other bacteria which may be problems in your area which you can incorporate into your program.
· Histophilus or as we used to call it, Hemopholus is generally included. The farther north you travel in the Great Plains, the more problems are caused by Histophilus. In other words, cold increases problems.
· Pinkeye – Moraxella species have been the cause of pinkeye. Bacterins have been developed for prevention but require repeated doses. Some of you give an initial dose after calving and then booster at branding.
· Mycoplasm – In recent years we have seen an increase in Mycoplasm. Sometimes this chronic disease causes enlarged joints and lameness. The respiratory form causes a chronic cough and decreased weight gains. It also makes the calf more susceptible to other respiratory problems. Spring vaccination helps minimize Myco problems in your calves.
2. Mode of administration
We have believed that you can overcome or decrease the immune response of the animal by administering too many vaccines at one time. Also many of the bacterial vaccines contain endotoxins which cause the calf to have allergic reactions. It is best to administer all vaccines subcutaneously. This decreases the reactivity of the product with the animal’s tissue. Several products are now available in a dried implant form. These products have lower endotoxin levels which decrease the reactions by the calf. Many products are now available in intranasal forms. These stimulate different immune systems than injectable while causing fewer body reactions.
3. Fly control
We all utilize products to control flies and other parasites. We have all used pour on with durations of two to three weeks. We have also gained one month of protection with injectable products. Now a new injectable gives 150 days of protection. We have seen an additional 30-50 pounds of weaning weigh while having a perceived decrease in fly populations.
Consult with your veterinarian and formulate a prevention program which works best for the problems in your herd. Not only will it increase the health and comfort of your calves, but it will increase your profits at weaning.