By following the modified-live vaccine (MLV) label when vaccinating cows and first-calf heifers, producers can prevent diseases that can cause profit-killing respiratory and reproductive problems.

Dr. Doug Ensley, Professional Services Veterinarian at Boehringer Ingelheim Vetmedica, Inc. (BIVI), says ranchers can be confident that a properly used MLV will provide protection their cows and heifers need to prevent infectious bovine rhinotracheitis (IBR) and bovine viral diarrhea (BVD).

“An MLV contains living organisms, with no disease-carrying capacity,” Ensley says. “As a producer, you get a balanced immune response to IBR and BVD from an MLV as compared to a killed vaccine (KV).

“When a KV is administered, it puts a large number of killed virus into the animal. Animals vaccinated with a killed vaccine require two doses for protection and the immune response is generally not as balanced as you get with an MLV, so it takes longer to obtain that good protection.”

With BIVI’s EXPRESS® FP vaccine line, the producer has an MLV vaccine that provides protection against the major reproductive diseases such as IBR, BVD and Lepto hardjo-bovis, providing excellent fetal protection. “EXPRESS FP provides mama cows with broad protection against these viruses,” Ensley says. “That protection results in healthy mama cows and heifers that have healthy calves ready to grow.”

Ensley addressed a concern among some that scheduled reproduction can be altered by MLV. “Timely use of an MLV, according to its label, will actually aid in the prevention of abortion due to IBR,” Ensley says. “Use of an MLV will promote healthier calves that grow more efficiently and provide better return.”

According to EXPRESS FP vaccine labels, Ensley says cows that have not received the MLV within the previous 12 months should be vaccinated pre-breeding. “I’d like to see those cows vaccinated with the MLV 30 days before bulls are turned in,” he says. “Any disease impact is often early following breeding. They can impact conception and/or cause fetal loss early on. So we want the cow vaccinated as soon as possible.”

Of course, some ranches are not able to gather cows and get them vaccinated pre-breeding. “You can use the MLV in those cows at preg-check time, if they have been vaccinated with the MLV within the past 12 months.

“Timing is essential in all cases. For heifers that have never seen the vaccine, we really want to stress that the MLV be administered at least 30 days pre-breeding.”