By Patricia Bianca S. Taculao

Vaccines are substances used to prompt the production of antibodies that provide immunity against a specific or a number of diseases. It can be a helpful tool in managing illnesses among cattle.

But it doesn’t work in an instant. Once the animal’s immune system is compromised, vaccines can lose their effectivity.

An effective vaccination program for livestock should begin with a consultation with a veterinarian to narrow down which diseases pose as a higher threat to the herd of flock. Specific decisions must be made especially for animals that have a different circumstance.

For example, calves which are soon to be weaned, backgrounded, or sent to the feedlot should be given vaccines that address viral respiratory disease and other viral diseases.

Read labels to understand the purpose as well as dosage of the substance before administering it to animals.

Here are other tips to remember for a more effective vaccination program:

  1. Work with the vaccine–not against it. Choose a time to vaccine cattle when their immune systems are most likely to respond to the substance. Calves should also be healthy and are only experiencing little to no stress for the vaccine to work.

  2. Vaccinate two weeks before weaning, being separated from their mothers, or after the calves have recovered from the stress of weaning. Avoid vaccinating calves who are experiencing severe stress from handling, weather, castration, or transportation.

  3. Follow label instructions for mixing and handling vaccines. Use only the amount you need to use. Labels also contain instructions when it comes to injecting vaccines. This determines their effectiveness.

For vaccines that need to be administered using a needle, tent the skin of the cattle’s neck with one hand and inject the substance with the other. Be attentive as this may prove to be risky to the handler.

Also change needles every time vaccine is drawn from a bottle. This prevents the spread of infection or other diseases among the herd or flock.

Vaccines are not a “cure-all” type of substance. There are different factors that contribute to diseases prevention which includes animal health, handling, and management practices that should reduce exposure to pathogens. In preventing illnesses, it pays to focus on the whole management process.

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