Vet’s Voice: Spring turnout vaccinations | TSLN.com
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Vet’s Voice: Spring turnout vaccinations

Dave Barz, DVM
For the May 7, 2011 edition of Tri-State Livestock News.

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This spring, the precipitation has been consistent, but the wind and cold temperatures have been oppressive. Very little fieldwork has been completed, and soon there will be a frenzied attempt to get the crops planted. Hopefully some sun will get the grass growing so cows and calves can be moved out of the mud. Before taking cattle to grass, it’s important to vaccinate breeding animals.

Most of our clients vaccinate for anthrax. We used to think anthrax outbreaks occurred only in very dry conditions. Recently we have seen outbreaks in wet years when water has eroded infested areas exposing the anthrax spores. The spores are formed when an animal becomes infected. They can live for many years (100-plus years) and still cause infection when ingested by a susceptible animal. The infected animal usually dies rather quickly after showing clinical signs. The spores are leaked from the carcass as fluids seep from body orifices. These deposits of spores permanently contaminate the soil and will survive for many years. It is important to vaccinate in order to prevent the contamination of other pastures.

Viral diseases are a common cause of infertility and abortion in cattle. During spring turnout, producers can vaccinate their cows with live viral vaccines because they are open. In the past, vaccinating pregnant animals with live-viral vaccines was not recommended. Recent studies have proven efficacy of using certain brands of vaccine in pregnant animals. All of these new recommendations require an initial spring vaccination when the female is open. Several high plains diagnostic labs have reported a few problems with fall vaccination of pregnant animals with live-virals. The exact cause of the problem has not been scientifically determined, and the vaccines are still licensed for use on pregnant animals with appropriate spring vaccination:

• Infectious bovine rhinotracheitis (IBR) has been the cause of late term abortion storms. The duration of immunity from a single turnout vaccination is long enough to prevent abortion during that gestation.

• Bovine respiratory syncicial virus (BRSV) is a common upper respiratory problem in all ages of cattle. The duration of immunity is variable, but usually short. This component is added to prevent the shedding of BRSV from cows to calves. This transmission is a primary cause of pasture pneumonia.

• Bovine virus diarrhea (BVD) causes a complex array of problems during gestation. If the cow is infected in the first few months of pregnancy, producers will usually see the cow cycling several months after infection. This is usually termed infertility. If the infection occurs about 120 days into gestation, the BVD virus is incorporated into the developing calf as normal. This calf then becomes a constant shedder or persistently infected (PI). If the infection occurs later in gestation the calf may be aborted, born with defects in limbs, eyes, etc., or born weak. If the virus is being shed in the calving area, the young calf may become infected if not adequately protected by the colostrum.

Duration of immunity for BVD varies with the type and brand of vaccine used, but is very important in the complex scenarios. If immunity lasts for five months, there shouldn’t be infertility or PIs, but there may be late-term problems. This is why some vaccines offer the fall vaccination option to increase colostral immunity and eliminate last term problems. Just because cattle were vaccinated in the spring, doesn’t mean there won’t be problems in late gestation or in the calving pasture.

Other vaccines may be administered at turnout for summer problems. Some producers use pinkeye products, while others vaccinate for footrot. Visit with your herd’s veterinarian and devise a prevention program for your specific needs. Increasing the productivity of your cowherd will greatly increase the profitability of your cow-calf operations.

This spring, the precipitation has been consistent, but the wind and cold temperatures have been oppressive. Very little fieldwork has been completed, and soon there will be a frenzied attempt to get the crops planted. Hopefully some sun will get the grass growing so cows and calves can be moved out of the mud. Before taking cattle to grass, it’s important to vaccinate breeding animals.

Most of our clients vaccinate for anthrax. We used to think anthrax outbreaks occurred only in very dry conditions. Recently we have seen outbreaks in wet years when water has eroded infested areas exposing the anthrax spores. The spores are formed when an animal becomes infected. They can live for many years (100-plus years) and still cause infection when ingested by a susceptible animal. The infected animal usually dies rather quickly after showing clinical signs. The spores are leaked from the carcass as fluids seep from body orifices. These deposits of spores permanently contaminate the soil and will survive for many years. It is important to vaccinate in order to prevent the contamination of other pastures.

Viral diseases are a common cause of infertility and abortion in cattle. During spring turnout, producers can vaccinate their cows with live viral vaccines because they are open. In the past, vaccinating pregnant animals with live-viral vaccines was not recommended. Recent studies have proven efficacy of using certain brands of vaccine in pregnant animals. All of these new recommendations require an initial spring vaccination when the female is open. Several high plains diagnostic labs have reported a few problems with fall vaccination of pregnant animals with live-virals. The exact cause of the problem has not been scientifically determined, and the vaccines are still licensed for use on pregnant animals with appropriate spring vaccination:

• Infectious bovine rhinotracheitis (IBR) has been the cause of late term abortion storms. The duration of immunity from a single turnout vaccination is long enough to prevent abortion during that gestation.

• Bovine respiratory syncicial virus (BRSV) is a common upper respiratory problem in all ages of cattle. The duration of immunity is variable, but usually short. This component is added to prevent the shedding of BRSV from cows to calves. This transmission is a primary cause of pasture pneumonia.

• Bovine virus diarrhea (BVD) causes a complex array of problems during gestation. If the cow is infected in the first few months of pregnancy, producers will usually see the cow cycling several months after infection. This is usually termed infertility. If the infection occurs about 120 days into gestation, the BVD virus is incorporated into the developing calf as normal. This calf then becomes a constant shedder or persistently infected (PI). If the infection occurs later in gestation the calf may be aborted, born with defects in limbs, eyes, etc., or born weak. If the virus is being shed in the calving area, the young calf may become infected if not adequately protected by the colostrum.

Duration of immunity for BVD varies with the type and brand of vaccine used, but is very important in the complex scenarios. If immunity lasts for five months, there shouldn’t be infertility or PIs, but there may be late-term problems. This is why some vaccines offer the fall vaccination option to increase colostral immunity and eliminate last term problems. Just because cattle were vaccinated in the spring, doesn’t mean there won’t be problems in late gestation or in the calving pasture.

Other vaccines may be administered at turnout for summer problems. Some producers use pinkeye products, while others vaccinate for footrot. Visit with your herd’s veterinarian and devise a prevention program for your specific needs. Increasing the productivity of your cowherd will greatly increase the profitability of your cow-calf operations.


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