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Wyo vets share health advice for 2010

by Wyoming Livestock Roundup

“Every beef operation is different depending on where they are in the state,” comments veterinarian Steve Tharp of Worland on herd health plans.

Every operation has a health plan of some form based on its unique circumstances. While most tried and true methods work fine, it never hurts to reexamine a health plan at the beginning of year. Ranchers should identify any health plan concerns or questions they have and adjust their plan accordingly.

The degree of variability is partially due to the number of options available. “If there was one vaccine or one system that was hands-down better than anything else, then that would be the only choice,” states veterinarian Glen Millard of Daniel. “There isn’t a best one.”

When preparing a health program for a cow/calf operation, veterinarian Bill Gould of Meeteetse recommends getting cows on a modified live (ML) vaccination program that would require two shots the first year and one each following year.

As ranchers begin the year with pregnant cows, the first consideration will be a ScourGuard and Vitamin A shot prior to calving. Millard explains that a cow can store Vitamin A for about 90 days after she comes off grass. “You probably aren’t doing much good if you’re giving it before December or January due to the amount they have stored in the liver,” he says.

ScourGuard is recommended if you have an early scour problem within the first 10 days of life in calves, explains Gould. This is also a two-shot program the first year, followed by one shot each following year. The first year ranchers would give one dose in late fall followed by the early spring dose. From then on the only necessary shot will be in the spring. Millard notes that scour vaccines have improved over the last three to five years. Ranchers can give them a lot farther ahead of calving than they could historically due to a longer acting adjuvant.

Immediately after calving Gould recommends giving calves a C&D Coccidian shot to prevent overeating. However, Millard points out, “Most ScourGuard vaccines include a C&D compound, which would provide the calf with passive immunity.”

At branding, recommendations include giving cows a five-way viral shot that protects against IBR, BVD Types 1 and 2, PI3 and BRSV. Cows should also get a Vibrio shot. Producers can give a trich vaccination at this time, but Millard points out, “It’s really expensive and I don’t find it to be highly effective.”

Suggested vaccinations for calves at branding include a five-way viral shot plus pasteurella and a seven-way blackleg plus haemophilus. “But I know a lot people that get by fine just blacklegging with anything from a four-way to an eight-way,” states Millard.

Millard also notes that in his area some ranchers are delaying branding until calves are a little older to improve vaccine effectiveness. This results in a calf with a more mature immune system that can better process the vaccine.

Ranchers can re-administer five-way and seven-way shots in the fall, ideally two to three weeks prior to weaning. At weaning is also effective, and something several producers practice as they don’t have access to calves prior to then.

Since most calves in Wyoming are sold and delivered at weaning, Gould recommends following up. “See what’s going on with your cattle if you want repeat buyers,” he says. “The producer should find out what happened to his cattle down the line so he can make adjustments to his health plan.”

Later in the fall ranchers will need to administer another five-way vaccination to cows, generally while pregnancy testing. “That way you’re not having to separate calves from cows next spring at branding,” explains Gould. This is also when cows should be poured for parasite control.

If a rancher keeps replacement heifers he will Bangs vaccinate them in the fall also. The following spring they would get a five-way and Vibrio shot 30 days prior to breeding. “One round of the live vaccine in breeding heifers and they’re on the program,” explains Millard.

Some producers are concerned about a possible wreck when using ML vaccines. “Live vaccines are a legitimate concern, but I think they’re safe,” says Millard, “There is a place for killed vaccines but if you’re not blatantly misusing ML vaccines they work very well.”

When producers need a quick response, intranasal vaccines are another viable option. “One place for their use is in stressful conditions,” explains Millard, “They are rapid acting and might have the ability to help shut down an outbreak. They also protect the upper respiratory system fairly immediately.”

While a good vaccination program can add profit to an operation, it should be used in conjunction with good management practices. Millard says, “I think you save a lot more lives and more money with management and nutrition than with vaccines, but vaccines are still a really important tool.”

Heather Hamilton is editor of the Wyoming Livestock Roundup and can be reached at

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