Keeping livestock healthy and productive begins with a vaccination protocol

Animal health plays a huge role in the success of a farm or ranch. Healthy animals are happier, cost less in the long run and are a valuable asset to the operation. Implementing a vaccination program can benefit the health of a producer’s livestock.


“The main diseases of concern are BVD, Tritrichomonas and Johne’s,” Dr. Heidi Ward, assistant professor and veterinarian with the University of Arkansas Cooperative Extension Service said. There are vaccinations available for all three.

Another common cattle vaccine is Blackleg. Vaccinations are commonly given to calves, but adult animals can be vaccinated for it as well.

“Other vaccinations include malignant edema, IBR, PI3, BRSV, Hoemophilus somnus and internal and external parasite control. Booster vaccinations 6 to 10 days later may be recommended by your veterinarian,” Homer Sewell with the Department of Animal Sciences with the University of Missouri Extension said. The timing and delivery of these vaccinations should be discussed with a trusted veterinarian – they can help producers maximize the effectiveness of vaccines and develop a herd health program.


One of the most common goat vaccines is the CDT vaccination for Clostridium perfringens type C+D and tetanus.

“While there are a number of vaccines for goats, the only vaccine I use is CDT,” Angelica Kostik of Ark of Angels Dairy Goat Farm in Greenfield, Mo., said.

“All CDT shots are normally given between January and March. Bucks and dry does are normally vaccinated in January, bred does 30 days prior to due date and kids at the time of disbudding.”

A CDT vaccination can also help prevent Enterotoxemia, also known as “over-eating disease.”

Vaccinations can be a little stressful if your goats are not accustomed to much body handling, so Kostik recommends that producers make sure their goats are handled on a regular basis so they won’t stress out.

“I put mine on the milk stand with a bit of grain and most of them don’t even notice it,” she said.


Horses should be vaccinated annually for West Nile Virus, according to the American Association of Equine Practitioners.

“The vaccine is effective and safe, and helps to safe guard horses from the severe form of the disease,” said MU Extension Equine Program Coordinator Marci Crosby.

A rabies and tetanus vaccination is also highly recommended for horses.

“Rabies is spread by the saliva of any infected (rabid) mammal through a bite wound and vaccination for rabies is often considered part of the core vaccines,” said Elisabeth J. Giedt, D.V.M., Director of Continuing Education, Extension and Community Engagement Center for Veterinary Health Sciences Oklahoma State University.

“Horses are particularly sensitive to tetanus. Wounds are infected by soil contact with the organism, so tetanus is also considered a core vaccine. This disease is often fatal to infected horses. When you purchase a new horse without a history of tetanus vaccination, it is essential to consult your veterinarian regarding protection. Even the smallest of puncture wounds can become deadly if the horse is infected.”


According to Roderick C. Tubbs, Swine veterinarian of the Commercial Agriculture Program with MU Extension and Jeanette L. Floss, College of Veterinary Medicine with MU Extension, a combination Leptospirosis/Parvovirus/Erysipelas vaccine should be given twice, at least two weeks apart, to all incoming breeding animals. It should also be given to all sows when the pigs are weaned and to boars twice a year. Pigs should receive Erysipelas vaccine at the time of weaning. The need for other vaccines should be determined with the aid of a practicing veterinarian.

Producers should always seek out the advice of their veterinarian during the creation of a vaccination program to ensure the maximum benefits and effective disease prevention. They should also make record keeping a priority as part of their vaccination program.

“Labels and lot numbers should be recorded in the case that producers experience a faulty 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,” Ward said.


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