For most, Spring is the busiest time of the year. Traditionally herds would vaccinate their cows before turnout, but all year round housed cattle tend to have the majority of vaccine now as well.
It is important an individual vaccination programme is in place for your farm so that not only the correct timing, dose and route is used but also the correct combination of vaccines. Some have a license to be mixed together whereas others could overwhelm the animals’ immunity. It is always best to vaccinate an animal that is healthy and not stressed, so if it has recently been moved back to the main farm or bought in, it is important to wait 48 hours before vaccinating. Vaccination is one of the biggest expenses for some herds, but it can also save the most money, as long as they are the correct vaccines and are given correctly.
A few years ago, I was taken to a vaccine manufacturer in Spain for a tour of their factory. What amazed me most was the infrastructure and equipment used to ensure a constant controlled environment from start of production to the finish. This then is followed along the distribution chains to ensure the optimal temperature is kept until the vaccine is handed over to the farmer. How many of you have even considered this? I never gave it a thought until I was given a tour! I’m not suggesting we all go on a tour of a vaccine company in Spain 😉but I think it is important that when you are investing in herd health, it is important the vaccines work.
Making sure your fridge is at the correct temperature and the door can be closed properly is a good start. Is the seal around the fridge intact? Is the freezer compartment overflowing into the fridge? I have known some vaccines that have sat in a farmer’s fridge for over a year. Ideally have your vaccine delivered when you know you have the manpower to use them. If feet on the ground is scarce, using our vet tech service can be a useful option.
Some vaccines can cause reactions at the site of injection so it is important to stay clear of the neck area leaving this for TB testing. To reduce vaccine reactions and lumps at injection sites a sterimatic gun with a stericap cleans the needle after every injection. These can be at first difficult to use but after the 100th injection it will start to feel less cumbersome.
Make sure when mixing a vaccine up all the diluent is used with the freeze-dried part of the vaccine as then the correct concentration solution is ready for injecting. Some vaccines must be used immediately once mixed, whereas others have a longer shelf life. When mixing up a vaccine use a new needle and syringe. The cost of a syringe is peanuts in comparison to the vaccine or to the disease it is protecting against.
When a vaccine is administered it is important to record the date it was given. The vaccine response in the animal can affect the quarterly bulk milk testing for some diseases. For example, if monitoring BVD antigen in bulk milk, make sure it is at least 30 days after administering a Bovela BVD vaccine otherwise you could get a false positive.
On a slightly separate note when monitoring Johnes in quarterly bulk milk make sure it is at least 42 days after day 1 of the TB test as the tuberculin that is injected can infer with the Johnes results.
The farms Herd Health Plan provides a great opportunity to go through the vaccination protocol for your herd and reassess how the timings and vaccines are working for you
If you need assistance with vaccinations, our experienced Vet Tech Teams are well placed to help.
Jenny Clayton – Synergy Farm Health, Veterinary Surgeon BVetMed MRCVS