What’s one of the most common mistakes made with cowherd vaccination programs? It is administering vaccines for protection against reproductive diseases like IBR, BVD, Vibrio and Lepto at the wrong time, according to veterinarians Daniel Scruggs and Dr. Robin Falkner, who work with cow-calf and stocker producers in the Southeast as part of Pfizer Animal Health’s beef cattle veterinary team.

“We often see reproductive vaccinations given to cows at preg-check time, which is four to six months before the next breeding season. For these vaccines to be effective against reproductive diseases like IBR, Vibrio and Lepto it is always best to administer them close to breeding—usually within 30 to 45 days of breeding,” explains Scruggs.

Falkner adds,“Vaccine protection doesn’t last forever. Some vaccines provide a high level of protection for only 60 – 90 days after it is administered. So it is important to pay attention to the product’s duration of immunity listed on the label and time the vaccine administration accordingly to maximize protection when it is needed.”

Falkner notes that the standard “revaccinate annually” statement on many vaccines does not indicate that they have demonstrated protection lasting a year. “Many vaccines that have no work on duration of immunity have this statement on the label,” he points out.

Regarding timing of when things are done on cattle operations, Falkner says “A lot of operations do certain management practices like vaccinations simply because that’s how they’ve always done it. But maybe the reason for doing something at a particular time is no longer valid. So it is wise to re-evaluate ranch practices from time to time.”

As an example, he suggests stepping back and looking at when cattle are worked to see if there might be a better time to do things—such as preg-check at preweaning and giving reproductive vaccines at branding time in the spring to boost immunity prior to the breeding season.

“Have a total herd health plan for the management of the herd,” Falkner advises, and says, “Producers have got to use the right product, in the right way, at the right time, for the right reasons. If you’re trying to get reproductive protection, you need to use a vaccine that’s been demonstrated to do that.”

For more information on vaccine protocols visit with your local veterinarian.

Next tip: Be Aware of Animal to Human Disease Risks