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Cattle health management, Callan discusses veterinarian-client relationships and vaccine protocols

by Wyoming Livestock Roundup

“A veterinarian-client relationship or partnership helps with managing the health of animals, as well as for prescribing medications for the animals,” described Robert Callan, chief of staff for the Large Animal Hospital at the Colorado State University (CSU) Veterinary Teaching Hospital, “and it is crucial in developing a targeted vaccine program for animals.”

Callan was one of the speakers at CSU’s Cow College, hosted by the Animal Science Department, in the managing healthy cattle session. 

Callan noted that both the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) have established guidelines for how veterinarians and producers should work together to identify and prescribe medications for animals. 

“One of the reasons for a veterinarian-client relationship is to keep a safe and wholesome food supply,” commented Callan. “As a veterinarian we want to work closely with producers to learn specifically and identify which drugs are going to be effective drugs to use in situations and help producers identify when and how to use them.”

Callan mentioned that by identifying the effective drug and with proper usage of the drug, tissue residues and injection site lesions will be minimized in animals. 


“A veterinarian-client relationship, without a doubt, has to be built on a lot of trust,” said Callan. “The producer’s trust in a veterinarian and the veterinarian’s trust in an owner are so important.”

“As a veterinarian, our licenses and our businesses are also on the line with the owners,” stated Callan. 

“When owners don’t follow the protocols that we developed – maybe if they use a different drug on an animal that wasn’t intended or don’t follow withdrawal times when the animal goes to slaughter – all of those can be traced back to the owner, and the veterinarian stands the potential of getting in trouble with the FDA for that residue,” continued Callan.  

Vaccination programs

“Vaccination programs really need to be targeted to an individual producer and their management of that herd,” explained Callan. “There are many variables in an individual’s herd management that can affect how a producer implements their vaccination.” 

Some variables Callan noted are the handling of animals, a producer’s distribution of their calving season and the distribution of the herd into different pastures. 

“We want to make sure animals are separated or identified appropriately, so we don’t use a vaccine that can cause reproductive failure in a pregnant female or failure in a female around breeding time,” noted Callan. 

“Forming a veterinarian-client relationship allows producers to put together the most effective vaccination program for their management of their herds,” explained Callan, “rather than saying, ‘Here’s a vaccination program that will work for everyone,’ because there really isn’t such a thing.”


“Producers should definitely be using clean syringes, and if they are disposable, we should actually dispose of them when done using them,” cautioned Callan. “The same thing goes with needles. We recommend that needles be used for no more than 10 animals, as a general rule of thumb.”

Another handling practice, specifically with vaccines, include not leaving vaccines open on the counter or table, especially with a needle sticking in the bottle. This practice increases the risk of contamination of the pharmaceutical. 

Along with having an ample supply of syringes, needles and other medical supplies, producers should consider having balling guns for oral medications, taggers and tags, stomach tubes and speculums on hand. They should also work with a veterinarian to know how to stomach tube an animal. 

Calving equipment is also essential and should consist of rectal sleeves, OB chains and handles, a calf puller and, most importantly, lubricant. 


“Producers should store medications in a clean and dry area where there won’t be a lot of temperature fluctuation,” said Callan. “It’s important to look at the label on medications for their storage conditions.”

“A common good practice is to get a small cooler, either Styrofoam or a plastic ice cooler, and drill or cut holes in the top of the cooler for the vaccine gun or syringe,” suggested Callan. “The holes in the cooler will allow for the syringes with the vaccine to be in the cooler where it is dark and near ice packs to keep it cool.”

Callan added, “Having the syringes in the cooler prevents damage to the vaccine while a producer is processing their animals.”

Callan further mentioned the majority of vaccines need to be refrigerated, and vaccine bottles that are labeled as single use should be used up entirely on the day they are opened and not be held over to be used on another day. 


“From a vaccine standpoint producers should never go past the expiration date,” advised Callan. “The expiration dates are set for a reason by the manufacturing companies to show that there is a satisfactory amount of activity in that vaccine up through that expiration date.”

“After the expiration date, the amount of activity in that vaccine may not be sufficient to provide a productive immune response, and the vaccine should be thrown out,” noted Callan. 

Callan mentioned there are some medications that are more stable than others, and there is no way to tell the amount of activity remaining in an expired drug or how efficacious it may be. A producer may encounter treatment failures when using expired medication.  

Madeline Robinson is editor of the Wyoming Livestock Roundup and can be reached at

Cow College

Colorado State University Animal Science Department hosted a Cow College to give current information about beef cattle health and production practices to beef producers. 

“Producers can be anywhere from novice beef producers all the way on up to advanced beef producers,” said Robert Callan, chief of staff for the Large Animal Hospital at the CSU James L. Voss Veterinary Teaching Hospital. 

The Cow College took place over several weeks from Feb. 11 to March 25. Callan was one of the speakers for the managing healthy cattle session that took place March 11. 

Topics discussed at the Cow College were Beef Quality Assurance programs, animal handling and animal welfare, effective cow nutrition, genetics and reproduction in beef cattle, managing for healthy cattle and carcass quality.


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