2013 — The year for pre-breeding vaccinations

St. Joseph, MO  If ever there was a year to use pre-breeding vaccinations, 2013 is likely to be it. Stressed cattle weakened by heat, drought and poor nutrition in 2012 face a heightened threat of infectious reproductive disease, according to Dr. Jerry Woodruff, Professional Services Veterinarian with Boehringer Ingelheim Vetmedica, Inc.

With all those additional challenges, getting on track with a strong vaccination program can help protect the health of the herd and reduce the potential for lost revenue from open cows in 2013.

"The animals have certainly suffered from some heat stress and drought stress this past year, and under those sorts of conditions, the animals" immune systems are compromised, leading them to be more vulnerable to infectious reproductive diseases," Dr. Woodruff explains. "Boosting immunity with a strong vaccination program including Express® FP becomes a very critical element to include in the herd health program."

Many key reproductive diseases affect cows (and in some cases, the fetus) early in gestation. Because of that, it's important to vaccinate pre-breeding with vaccines like EXPRESS FP and TrichGuard® or TRICHGUARD V5L to help protect against viral pathogens (bovine viral diarrhea [BVD] and infectious bovine rhinotracheitis [IBR]), bacterial diseases (vibrio and leptospirosis) and protozoal diseases like trichomoniasis.

Critical Factors for Vaccination Success

A cow's ability to mount an immune response to disease challenges goes beyond simply administering a vaccine. Dr. Woodruff encourages producers to consider nutrition, including energy, protein and trace mineral supplementation. He also emphasizes correct timing of pre-breeding vaccinations to maximize protection before disease challenges occur.

"For a lot of those diseases, the animals are very vulnerable during the early part of the gestation period, so it's very important for them to have protection prior to exposure to the bull," he says. "That's why the pre-breeding vaccination say, 30 to 60 days before bull turnout is the ideal time to get the protection into those cows prior to when they are likely to see exposure."

While producers can vaccinate spring-calving cows in the fall at preg-check time, Dr. Woodruff says they miss the critical time to protect the herd.

"Persistently infected [PI] BVD calves are formed early in the pregnancy. The venereal diseases – vibrio, trichomoniasis – those are diseases you want protection against approximately 30 days ahead of the breeding season. By vaccinating at preg-check time, you've lost some of the importance and value of those vaccinations because the time when exposure happens has already passed," Dr. Woodruff says.

Seeing the Return

Vaccination is just one part of getting cows bred on the first heat cycle, but it has a big impact. In years like this, avoiding disease challenges that could affect reproductive efficiency should be high priority.

"The earlier the cows are bred and calve, the more pounds they will have to sell," he explains. "It's simple math that, if a cow calves 21 days earlier than her herd mate, 21 days multiplied by a 1.75- or even 2-pound-a-day gain on those calves can equal a large sum of pounds, which then corresponds to a bigger value when producers sell those calves."

Putting a pre-breeding vaccination protocol in place that utilizes modified-live virus (MLV) vaccines that have a fetal-protection label claim, like the Express® FP vaccine family, can help protect the cow and her fetus throughout pregnancy.

Dr. Woodruff recommends talking to your veterinarian about establishing a pre-breeding vaccination protocol. You can also visit with your Boehringer Ingelheim Vetmedica, Inc. representative or go to BI-Vetmedica.com/Cattle to learn about available reproductive vaccines.

Boehringer Ingelheim Vetmedica, Inc. (St. Joseph, MO) is a subsidiary of Boehringer Ingelheim Corporation, based in Ridgefield, CT, and a member of the Boehringer Ingelheim group of companies.