Properly vaccinating calves is one management practice that can help calves be healthier, avoid financial losses down the road and provide the best possible product to the consumer.

 “As we consider vaccinating the calves, either pre-weaning or at weaning time, it is pretty universally accepted that protecting against respiratory disease, rather than treating disease, is far better for the animal, the producer and even for our consumer,” says Jerry Woodruff, DVM, Boehringer Ingelheim Vetmedica, Inc.

However, simply vaccinating calves is not enough. Correct storage, handling and administration practices must be followed in order to ensure the effectiveness of the vaccination.

Boehringer Ingelheim Vetmedica, Inc. recommends adhering to the following five keys to handling and using cattle vaccines to receive full benefit from vaccinations:

  • Store vaccines in accordance with labeling, generally 35°F to 45°F. Follow label directions.
  • Protect vaccines and filled syringes from sunlight and heat.
  • Use modified-live virus (MLV) vaccines within an hour of mixing.
  • Discard bent or broken needles. Change needles often (about every ten animals).
  • Clean syringes with hot distilled water (212 degrees F). Use care not to burn your skin with hot water. Do not use soap or disinfectant.

Making sure vaccines are never frozen is key, Woodruff says, as freezing temperatures will cause damage. Exposure to sunlight and heat will have similar effects on the vaccines. For modified-live virus vaccines, make sure to use them within one hour after mixing, as viability of the vaccine declines after mixing.

Changing needles every 10 head is also critical, not only to ensure cleanliness, but to avoid unnecessary tissue damage to the animal.

“A burred or blunted end of the needle is likely to cause damage to the skin and underlying tissue,” Woodruff says. “Unnecessary tissue damage can lead to injection site lesions and possible backflow of vaccine at the injection site, both of which can lower the probability that the animal is adequately protected from disease.”

Following the five keys to handling and using cattle vaccines can help your producers ensure that the vaccinations they administer more effectively protect their animals throughout their lifetime.

“It is very important that producers understand that these vaccine products are relatively inexpensive compared to the value of the animal,” Woodruff says. “It is imperative that we handle the vaccines properly, we administer them with the best technique possible, such that we can achieve the kind of response from those vaccines to reduce disease.”

Vaccines and their correct handling are an integral part of Boehringer Ingelheim Vetmedica, Inc. and its Prevention Works platform.