Cow-calf vaccination programs

Vaccines and beyond

  • Christine B. Navarre School of Animal Sciences, Louisiana State University, Baton Rouge, LA 70803
Keywords: beef cattle, herd health, vaccination


The term “herd health” means different things to different people, both producers and veterinarians. Many times producers equate a herd health program with a vaccination program. However, much more goes into preventive herd health programs than just a good vaccination program. To truly immunize cattle, they must have a working immune system at the time of vaccination. That means that we need to minimize all of the stressors that negatively impact the immune system.

Herd health programs can be divided into 6 parts: nutrition; parasite control; biosecurity; vaccinations; genetics; and stress management. A good analogy is a 6-strand barbed wire fence. You need all the strands intact to keep cattle in. The more strands that are broken, the higher the risk of cattle escaping. All 6 parts of a herd health program are important. We can’t pick only the ones that are easy or cheap.

It is most cost-effective to personalize each herd health/vaccination program. Many ranches don’t need every vaccine available, and in some cases recommendations don’t fit the business model of the ranch. “Cookbook” programs are a good place to start, but should be tailored to each ranch.

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