Vaccination protocols for beef calves
There are many vaccines to select from when vaccinating calves. No single vaccine protocol is appropriate for all operations; thus, vaccine protocol development requires understanding of the management of each operation. Unfortunately, published controlled field trials confirming efficacy of vaccines to prevent preweaning disease are rare, so protocols are often based on challenge studies or expert opinion. When vaccination of calves in the first 3 to 4 months of life is possible, vaccines for clostridial infections and respiratory viral infections are most likely to be used to limit preweaning disease. On some operations, preweaning vaccination may be delayed until close to weaning if the aim is to limit postweaning disease. Vaccines likely appropriate to limit postweaning disease include those for clostridial agents, agents that cause bovine respiratory disease, and agents likely to impact fertility in replacement heifers. Other vaccines may be appropriate on a case-by-case basis. Producers need to keep records of vaccine timing and disease in vaccinated calves, to help the veterinarian confirm efficacy of vaccine protocols. Veterinarians need to stay informed by periodically checking for new information on vaccine efficacy from systematic reviews, meta-analyses, or randomized controlled field trials testing vaccine efficacy against naturally occurring disease.