Q. What tips can you give for writing vaccination protocols for my operation? We want to keep it very user-friendly.

A.  It’s important to realize with this question that there are not really any “cookbook” vaccine programs.  The best program is the one that gets done consistently and fits your operation.  

However, here are a few things to think about when developing a protocol: 

  1. Whichever vaccine you use, read the package insert and follow directions for the product.  Remember to booster any initial vaccines in two to four weeks after the first vaccination.
  2. Don’t give more than two gram negative vaccines in a single day, and wait at least 7 to 10 days before you give another set of vaccines. 
  3. Programs depend on disease present in the herd or area, but most include protection against IBR, PI3, and BRSV.  Mastitis, pinkeye, colostridial, salmonella, and calf scours vaccines should also be considered.
  4. Consider your access to animals at any given point of time.  For calves, your best time to access them will be at birth and around weaning or dehorning.  For heifers, this time could be at any pen or group move (around 4 to 6 months).  And for cows, access is usually when you’re transitioning cows to different groups, dry-off and moving animals to close-up pens. 
  5. Modify live v. killed vaccine.  Killed vaccines can be given to the entire herd once or twice a year while modified live vaccines should only be given to open animals (or if given to pregnant animals, that animal needs to have been vaccinated as an open animal).

And finally, recordkeeping is key to any vaccine program.  You need to decide what level of recordkeeping you’re willing to maintain.  For some, it will be easiest to completely vaccinate the whole herd once or twice a year with a killed vaccine.  However, this method does not let you time when the vaccine will be most effective to that animal (response of animal depends on state of lactation).  For those willing to keep detailed records, you can use vaccines at the optimum time to get the best response.  Detailed records can be maintained by having individual cow cards or a computer records program.

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