By Brandi Buzzard Frobose on January 19, 2021

Cows Need Vaccinations Too

We are a pro-vaccination ranch – from the cows to the horses to the dogs to the kiddo, we fully embrace the scientific advancements that allow our family, and our herd, to stay healthy.

Before I go into the why and how of our vaccination plan on the ranch, let’s review how a vaccine works. A vaccine is administered via an injection that stimulates the immune system to produce antibodies, exactly as it would if a human (or a cow) were exposed to a disease. Typically, vaccines exist in a “live” or a “killed” state, depending on the virus, which is true for both cattle and humans. And, since not all vaccines are created equal, neither is the way we approach our herd health and vaccination schedule.

For example, in our herd, we have mature mama cows, bred replacement heifers and baby calves. All three of these contemporary groups need vaccinations, however, not every group receives the same vaccinations.

In regard to the cows and replacement heifers, we annually vaccinate our cows with ViraShield 6 + VL5 HB, which is a vaccine that protects our cows from up to 13 different respiratory, reproductive and leptospirosis (blood) diseases. The ability to prevent so many diseases with just one injection gives us peace of mind, while also allowing us to protect the herd with just one injection rather than having to handle and work the cows multiple times. The fewer times we have to put the cows in the processing chute, the lower the amount of stress we are imparting on them, which promotes better animal welfare.

When it comes to calves, they also receive a ViraShield 6 injection, but without the VL5 HB aspect, because they don’t need reproductive disease protection. The calves also receive a 7-way clostridial vaccination with Blackleg that protects against many clostridial bacterial diseases, which are typically caused when animals ingest bacterial spores while grazing. Blackleg symptoms include lameness, loss of appetite and fever. This wide range of disease protection ensures our calves have the best possible chance at a healthy lifecycle.

One of the many benefits of using vaccinations in our herd is obviously to protect overall herd health – widespread vaccination helps us achieve herd immunity. Another benefit is the reduced need for antibiotics to treat disease – if we can protect against most diseases, hopefully, there will be fewer animals get sick and need medication or treatment. An additional side benefit is the added value of calves that have undergone vaccination protocols. We sell some of our calves through an auction market and when potential buyers hear calves have been vaccinated against common diseases, it lowers the risk associated with the purchase of our calves.

We adhere to strict FDA guidelines about withdrawal times and no animal that receives ViraShield 6 is eligible for harvest until 60 days post-vaccination.

Every producer approaches their herd health management differently, similar to how families approach their health based on their own needs. Just as we rely on our general physician to help us decide what vaccinations and treatments are best for our family, we base our cattle health decisions on the advice of our veterinarian, who helps us keep our herd as healthy as possible. Science and technology are powerful tools that help us promote health and well-being across all aspects of our ranch and home.