Springtime Herd Health Strategies

Feb 14, 2020

Beef Cattle standing at the fence, waiting to be fed.
Many successful herd owners utilize a springtime vaccination protocol to help protect cows and calves from disease challenge. The development of this protocol needs to be made by a team of the herd owner or manager along with the herd health veterinarian. If your vaccination protocol has not changed for many years, I encourage you to sit down with your herd health veterinarian to make sure you are using the right products in the right animals at the right times. A yearly meeting to review the upcoming year’s program is ideal.

Vaccinating Winter/Spring-born Calves
With bovine respiratory disease (BRD) being the most prevalent disease in the beef business, getting a BRD vaccine into calves at an early age should be an absolute. Young calves at 2-3 months of age are able to develop a cell-mediated immune response to a modified live IBR-BVD-PI3-BRSV vaccine like Titanium 5®. Getting this first vaccination into the calf well ahead of weaning helps the calf respond more quickly and more completely to the next dose of MLV vaccine given at weaning. 
With blackleg being a common disease in many parts of the country, giving a 7 or 8-way blackleg vaccination to these 2-3 month old calves is an excellent management option. 
If the herd health team decides that a Mannhemia hemolytica bacterin is needed in the protocol, this is an excellent time to utilize this product. Some of these products contain large amounts of endotoxin that can stress young calves. Nuplura® PH is an excellent choice for use in calves 3 months of age and older. 1In a research trial, Nuplura PH was tested against another leading Mannhemia sp. bacterin;  Nuplura PH had 35x less endotoxin than the alternative product. 2
Vaccination against pinkeye with Pinkeye Shield® XT4 should be part of a total herd health program to help decrease the incidence of this disease. In addition to vaccination, fly control needs to be the cornerstone of the prevention of pinkeye. Use of a fly tag in calves (and two in cows) can be helpful in controlling flies. Be sure to work with your herd health veterinarian on timing of fly tags. Tags placed too early limit their effectiveness. Another adjunct to the fly control goal is to use StandGuard® pour-on for fly control in both calves and cows.
Another cost-effective procedure you can perform on these young calves is to use a suckling calf growth implant. All steers and heifers over 45 days of age should be implanted with a low-dose implant like Component® E-C with Tylan®. A recent study showed a 24 pound increase in weaning weight of steers that received a suckling calf implant vs. those that did not receive an implant.3When a producer adds a suckling calf growth implant to the spring health protocol, the approximately $25/head additional profit from the implant helps pay for the above mentioned products. Approximately 90% of all feedlot cattle receive a growth implant. 4If you are in the 10% of herds that receive a substantial, pre-determined premium for non-implanted calves, this would be the only reason to skip this procedure.
Other optional vaccinations against diseases like Histophilus somniand Leptospirosis sp. should be discussed with your herd health veterinarian.

Vaccinating Winter/Spring-Calving Cows
The primary objective for vaccinating cows in the spring is to help to prevent infectious reproductive diseases. For years, the recommendation from many veterinarians has been to use a MLV BRD vaccine at least 30 days prebreeding, but recent research would disagree with this older wisdom.
A study was conducted in South Dakota where three different prebreeding protocols were used on over 1300 cows. These cows were in nine separate herds where each herd had used a MLV prebreeding vaccination protocol for many years. One-third of the cows in each herd where given either MLV vaccine, inactivated vaccine (Vira Shield® 6+L5 HB), or saline 30 days prebreeding.  Subsequent reproductive efficiency was assessed. The results showed that the cows in the Vira Shield 6+L5 HB group had a 6.5% higher first service conception rate, a 4.3% increase in the 56-day pregnancy rate and a 2.8% advantage in the entire breeding season pregnancy rate .5In a 40 cow herd, this is nearly an $1100 advantage for the Vira Shield 6+L5 HB program. 
A recent study at Kansas State University showed that vaccination of pregnant beef heifers during late gestation with two doses of inactivated multivalent vaccine demonstrated increases in colostral total IgG and specific antibodies to BVD and IBR viruses. Higher serum antibody titers to BVDV 1, BVDV 2, and IBR virus in calves born to vaccinated heifers may extend the duration of maternally-derived immunity and better protect against respiratory disease during the pre-weaning period. 6This study suggests that giving an inactivated virus vaccine at pregnancy check may be more beneficial in some herds than giving it prebreeding. Again, discuss the options with your herd health veterinarian.
Looking at these studies, along with hundreds of others, indicates that we should use MLV vaccine in animals under a year of age and inactivated in animals over a year of age. This allows excellent development of lifetime immunity along with the improvement in herd fertility.
Some herds may need to vaccinate cows for blackleg if this disease has been diagnosed in adult animals. A pinkeye vaccine can also be used as an aid to prevention of this disease. Utilizing two fly tags in all cows, along with pour-on for fly control, is also recommended. Campylobacteriosis(Vibrio) and Trichomonas foetus(Trich) are both reproductive diseases where vaccination may be necessary if the disease is prevalent in the area.
Most veterinarians would recommend deworming cows at or near pasture turnout time. While the pour-on dewormers have been quite popular options, the fact that the majority of the absorption of these products is from cows licking the product off of themselves and other cows leaves questions as to accuracy of dosing.7Many veterinarians recommend using an injectable or oral dewormer in the cows.
Don’t Forget the Bulls
Herd bulls should be vaccinated similarly to the cowherd. In addition, bulls are more susceptible to internal parasites and to horn flies, so be sure to deworm bulls and control for flies. 

Sample Spring Herd Health Protocols
2-3 Month old Calves:
Titanium 5 - MLV BRD vaccine
7 or 8 way blackleg
Nuplura PH (3 months of age and older)
Pinkeye Shield XT4
Fly tag
Standguard Pour-on
Cows and Bulls: 
Vira Shield 6+L5 HB
Fly tag
Standguard Pour-on
For all Products:  Important Safety Information
The label contains complete use information, including cautions and warning.  Always read, understand and follow the label and use directions.
Implants are indicated for increased rate of weight gain; see product labels for full indication.  

Implants: Directions for Use
Administer one dose in the ear subcutaneously according to label directions.
  1. Elanco Animal Health.  Data on file.
  2. Elanco Animal Health. Data on file.
  3. Pritchard, R. H., Taylor, A. R., Holt, S. M., Bruns, K. W., & Blalock, H. M. (2015). Time of Suckling Implant Influences on Weaning Weight, Post-weaning Performance, and Carcass Traits in Steer Calves.  
  4. https://www.aphis.usda.gov/animal_health/nahms/feedlot/downloads/feedlot2011/Feed11_is_Implant.pdf accessed January 2, 2019.
  5. Perry, G. et al. 2016. "Safety of vaccination with an inactivated or modified live viral reproductive vaccine when compared to sterile saline in beef cows." J Vet Sci Res. 2.1:033.
  6. https://ksubci.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/09/ACVIM2017-forum-abstract.docx accessed January 2, 2019
  7. Laffont, C. M., Bousquet-Mélou, A., Bralet, D., Alvinerie, M., Fink-Gremmels, J., & Toutain, P. L. (2003). A pharmacokinetic model to document the actual disposition of topical ivermectin in cattle. Veterinary research34(4), 445-460.
Titanium, Nuplura, Standguard, Tylan, Vira Shield, Pinkeye Shield and Elanco are trademarks of Elanco or its affiliates.
©2019 Elanco or its affiliates.  PM-US-19-0037 


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