Evaluating animals and administering vaccinations can protect herd health

The health of a producer’s cows will make or break the success of their farm.

To ensure minimal health problems, it is a wise management strategy to have a regular vaccine calendar and a herd health plan to adhere to, especially just prior to breeding cows and again just prior to calving season.


Before breeding, all cows should receive a health check, which includes examining their eyes, ears, legs and feet, and udders.

The cows’ identification should be verified and recorded, and parasite preventatives should be administered. During this time, producers or their veterinarian need to administer vaccines to prevent reproductive diseases. These include: Leptospirosis, Vibriosis (if using natural service, recommended by the University of Oklahoma Cooperative Extension Service), and IBR-BVD-PI3-BRSV virus vaccines (if a modified live vaccine is used, be sure the animal is open). The diseases that the vaccines are designed to counter can cause delayed breeding, potential abortion, smaller calves and/or persistently infected calves – so prevention is a must.


If animals did not receive the above vaccinations prior to being bred, they certainly need administered prior to calving, with the assistance of a veterinarian, 40 to 60 days prior to calving.

At three weeks prior to calving, cows should receive a scours vaccination (instructions will vary by product) so that these antibodies are passed along to the calf through colostrum, and outbreaks of scours can be prevented. The University of Oklahoma Cooperative Extension Service also recommends a pre-calving vaccination for coliform mastitis. The time of administration varies by product.

Record Keeping

Record keeping for pre-breeding and pre-calving vaccines is imperative and can also provide assistance if a producer finds themselves in a situation where the vaccine may not have worked properly.

“For tech-savvy producers, there are several digital record keeping programs such as HerdOne or CattleMax, that allow producers to keep track of breeding, medical, inventory and financial records on their computer. Producers can also purchase record books from farm supply stores or download forms from the internet to assemble in their own books. Record templates can be found in the National Beef Quality Assurance Manual at www.bqa.org.

No matter the format, producers should keep records pertaining to the entire herd (vaccines, deworming, weights, etc.) and individual animals (treatments, medications, etc.).

“Labels and lot numbers should be recorded in the case producers experience) issues with the vaccination or treatment). Pharmaceutical companies may cover the cost of diagnostics and/or animal replacement but will only do so if the producer has a record of the product used,” Dr. Heidi Ward, assistant professor and veterinarian with the University of Arkansas Cooperative Extension Service, said.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here