Herd vaccination worth expense: survey

MOOSE JAW, Sask. — The cost of vaccination is far outweighed by the cost of losses due to some common cattle ailments, said Western Beef Development Centre economist Kathy Larson.

At the WBDC, she calculated a cost of $26.20 per cow to vaccinate for blackleg, anthrax, diarrhea and respiratory diseases, plus parasite control.

“Low cost and profitable producers do not cut corners on pasture, bulls and herd health,” she told the Saskatchewan Stock Growers Association.

Spending less in those areas will result in decreased herd productivity, she said.

More than 90 percent of producers in Western Canada reported in a 2014 survey that they vaccinate. The same survey found that 36 percent of calf deaths were due to scours, pneumonia and disease.

Larson used BVD as an example to show the cost-benefit of vaccinating.

The greatest risk on a ranch is moving new animals in, she said. One persistently infected (PI) animal on a cow-calf operation costs between $15 and $25 per exposed cow each year, studies have found.

One PI calf in a feedlot costs $47 per head.

Plus, there are also losses from reduced or delayed conception, Larson said.

On an operation with 157 breeding stock and 150 calves, it would cost $4 per dose, or a total of $1,230 to vaccinate the entire herd in spring. That equates to $8.20 per cow.

The same operation that didn’t vaccinate, but had a PI calf, might experience a five-percent decrease in conception rates. Five fewer calves, at 550 pounds each and $2.05 per lb., results in total lost calf revenue of $9,020 or $60 per cow.

“Would you rather spend $8.20 per cow to vaccinate or experience a loss of $60?” she asked.

She encouraged producers to consult their veterinarians to develop a vaccination protocol.

New federal regulations regarding access to antibiotics and medications mean producers will need a veterinary client-patient relationship, based on medical records, and a vaccination protocol is part of that process.

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