Biosecurity is in the news.  Because of my veterinary training and the National Biosecurity Farmer of the Year Award in 2012, our clients, friends and contacts think I might know something about vaccination.  The following is my opinion.  I invite you to check the facts which are clearly written (in fine print) in the relevant products.

UPDATE:  The previous version was written last year (August 2016).  Please note some important changes to vaccination recommendations:

Clostridia vaccination (5 in 1 products):

  • Coopers now state that their Tasvax 5 in 1 product provides 12 month protection after 2 initial doses and annual re-vaccination.
  • Zoetis Ultravac 5 in 1 still requires 3 monthly vaccinations to protect against enterotoxaemia.

Clostridia plus leptospira vaccination (7 in 1 products):  

  • Zoetis advise that the use of of their Ultravac 7 in 1 product (5 clostridia plus L pomona and L hardjo) provides 12 months protection for all diseases OTHER THAN enterotoxaemia.  Their instructions recommend repeated 3 monthly vaccinations to protect against enterotoxaemia.  This means that to protect your cattle against all 7 diseases you would need to vaccinate twice initially and then annually with 7 in 1 but every 3 months in between you would need to use the Zoetis Ultravac 5 in 1  to protect against enterotoxaemia year round.
  • Coopers data on Cattlevax 7 in 1 shows that 2 initial doses and annual re-vaccination provides continuing protection against enterotoxaemia.  Therefore the best strategy, which we are adopting, is to use Coopers Cattlevax  7 in 1 twice as calves and then annually.  This simplifies our vaccination regime, requires that we stock only one clostridial / leptospiral vaccine and greatly reduces the number of injections that our cows receive.
    PROBLEM – Coopers advise that stocks of their 7 in 1 will not be available until November.  We checked 3 avenues for vaccine supply – all reported the same story.  No 7 in 1 stocks and not available until November.  We will delay vaccinating our spring drop calves until then.  Our autumn drop calves will receive 2 doses of Tasvax 5 in 1 and then get the 7 in 1 when vaccine become available.

Coopers Tasvax 8 in 1 product – despite what many people believe 8 in 1 does not protect against leptospira.


Routinely vaccinate all cattle with Coopers Cattlevax 7 in 1, twice initially and then annually.

Leptospira is a nasty zoonotic disease.  I had a dose in 1970 when there was a big outbreak of Leptospira hardjo in dairy cattle.  The major reason for vaccinating with 7 in 1 is to protect you and your family from this disease.  It can also cause abortion in cattle.  Reference by Hoare and Claxton (1972) here.

August 2016 version:

The most common infectious disease that has killed our cattle is enterotxaemia or pulpy kidney which is caused by the toxin of the bacterium Clostridium perfringens (Type-D) when it is absorbed from the intestinal tract. The bacteria multiplies rapidly when conditions change such as increased feed intake, new or better pasture, dramatic change in diet, or the introduction of grain based diets.

In the early years we vaccinated annually with a 5 in 1 product, Ultravac 5 in 1, manufactured by Zoetis. Despite this we lost about 1 animal per year. Zoetis changed their advice to: Immunity to pulpy kidney after vaccination lasts around 3-4 months, so boosters may be required when a sudden change in diet is anticipated.”. The difficulty is that it is not always possible to predict a change in management. Last year we lost a bull when we fed him wheaten hay when the snow covered the ground for days. He had been vaccinated 5 months previously.

Therefore in an area such as the Southern Tablelands, which usually has lush feed, we decided it would be wise to vaccinate with Ultravac 5 in 1 every 3 months to be sure of adequate protection. Some of our older cows have had over 20 doses because they get vaccinated virtually every time they come through the yards. They get pretty tired of this and so do we.

Other breeders have mentioned that Tasvax vaccines give better protection so we did some investigation. The Coopers Product Tasvax 5 in 1 does mention the need for for more frequent vaccination. “In high risk areas seasonal booster doses may be required. This applies particularly to enterotoxaemia and black disease prone areas.”

However, the Tasvax 8 in 1 vaccine which covers 3 strains of Cl. perfringens (types B, C and D) gives no advice that re-vaccination is required. “Revaccination is required every 12 months.”

We have changed our routine against enterotoxaemia to annual vaccinations of Tasvax 8 in 1. We intend to vaccinate our heifers with a 7 in 1 product to protect against leptospirosis prior to them going on agistment where there are pigs and where we join them. This will provide an additional boost against enterotoxaemia.

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