Redundancies still exist in health protocols, treatments

As time goes on, more vaccines, treatments and preventive options are available for our cattle.

As well, nutritional needs of cattle are coming under more study, and we use post-mortems and laboratory assistance to diagnose and advise. Recommendations based on an accurate diagnosis generally yield favourable outcomes.

But there are times when we need to examine possible redundancies or whether newer products can replace a combination of former products. As well, management changes may eliminate the need for some medications.

Nutritional balancing of feeds and total mixed rations has been the best way to ensure no deficiencies occur. Many producers still give vitamins A and D to calves at birth but in many instances that may not be necessary. I see many different practices and regional differences.

The shortage of this product last year may have clarified the situation. Did we see any issues with calves?

Last year, when we ran out of injectable A and D, the world did not end. Maybe we can use this situation as a natural study.

It’s hard to look at these things on a large scale, but one often hears about a farm changing management protocols and finding little or no change to its health parameters.

Time spent on management such as stress-free weaning, pre-immunization, stress-free cattle handling and biosecurity are definitely cutting down antimicrobial use.

In some cases, if the immune system is functioning well we need to look at where there are overlapping vaccine protocols. An extra vaccination will always be superior to a vaccine too short, but there are a few situations where producers need to consider the pros and cons.

A good example of this is histophilus coverage. I believe most veterinarians would agree this is almost exclusively a weaned calf/feedlot phenomena. For those weaning and retaining their calves, an initial booster shot before weaning is ideal. Most retain some calves as replacements, so again, the two shots on-farm are necessary.

For producers who sell their calves, perhaps the initial shot should include tetanus in the multivalent clostridial and either booster the same shot later, or go with the histophilus vaccine before weaning.

Feedlots will always give a histophilus booster as part of their regular protocols in Western Canada, but a wide difference in vaccination strategies still exists between eastern and western Canadian feedlots.

In the West, histophilus, clostridials, five-way virals, mannheimia and sometimes pasteurella are given.

In the East, histophilus and mannheimia/pasteurella are given in a much lower frequency than out West. What is surprising is that many of the calves come from the West so have the same exposure to infectious fall diseases yet protocols can be quite different.

Who is right? I am not sure. With the much smaller lots and most housed under a roof in the East, perhaps after the long trucking there is still not as much exposure as with the much larger feedlots on average out West.

There are always vaccines for diseases, which come and go based on the need and disease prevalence either in a specific farm or specific geographic area.

Examples of these are pinkeye, footrot and anthrax. Need will be based on disease prevalence and it is best to get your veterinarian’s opinion as the need could change from year to year.

Veterinarians look at herd prevalence, potential to contract the disease and economic considerations. It also may depend on whether cattle are processed at the right time to make it effective. As an example, anthrax needs to be given as close to turnout as possible, otherwise protection wanes before we are in the anthrax season, which is generally July, August and early September.

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