Vaccination Programs (Updated April 2018)

I had written about vaccination in 2016 (see below) and updated again in 2017.  This updated version follows our Cattle Information Day held on 11 April 2018 where we had a good but somewhat brief discussion on the subject.  We were grateful to have contributions from Peter Reardon from Zoetis and George Hancock from Coopers.

Vaccines used in cattle generally require two doses.  The first dose primes the immune system.  The second, given at least two weeks later, produces the protective immune response.  With some vaccines the advice is that the second dose can be given up to 6 months after the first.  The animal is not adequately protected until the second dose is administered.

The information given here is general advice and the specific advice provided with the product should be read and understood.  Claims made by the companies have to be approved by the APVMA.  Claims and advice change with research and field experience, so just because you have used a product for a long time does not mean that the product or the advice for use is the same as it was.

Clostridial vaccination (5 in 1 type products):

  • The 5 in 1 products protect against enterotoxaemia (pulpy kidney), tetanus, blackleg, black disease and malignant oedema.  Vaccines protecting against these diseases are marketed by Zoetis and Coopers.
  • Because these diseases can affect calves it is wise to give at least 1 dose before marking to protect against tetanus with a second dose at marking.
  • Enterotoxaemia is the hardest of these 5 diseases to protect against.
  • Zoetis Ultravac 5 in 1 requires 3 monthly vaccinations to fully protect against enterotoxaemia.  The dose is 2 ml.
  • Coopers Tasvax 5 in 1 provides 12 month protection after 2 initial doses and annual re-vaccination. The dose is 4 ml.
  • Coopers Tasvax 8 in 1 covers 3 strains of Cl. perfringens (types B, C and D) not just type D.  Like Tasvax 5 in 1 it protects for 12 months.  Despite what many people believe, Tasvax 8 in 1 does not protect against leptospira.  The dose is 5 ml.

Clostridial plus leptospiral vaccination (7 in 1 products):  

  • Leptospirosis 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.
  • Zoetis 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 plan to produce a 7 in 1 product which would protect against enterotoxaemia for 12 months but it is still in development.  When Coopers Cattlevax LC 7 in 1 becomes available we will use this annually.
  • Unfortunately, currently the best approach to cover 7 diseases for 12 months is to vaccinate annually with both Tasvax 5 in 1 and Ultravac 7 in 1.  That would be more practical than vaccinating every 3 months with 7 in 1.   Zoetis also make Leptoshield which is Lepto only but I have not seen it for sale.

Pestivirus vaccination:

  • Whether or not you vaccinate against pestivirus will depend on your herd’s status.  Seek veterinary advice on your herd situation.
  • The vaccination strategy is to ensure that females are immune prior to getting pregnant.
  • The first dose of Zoetis Pestigard may be given up to 6 months before the second dose to suit management practices.
  • If joining at 15 months the first shot of Pestigard can be given at weaning and the second a month before joining.
  • Thereafter give an annual Pestigard booster a month before joining.

Vibriosis (Campylobacter) vaccination:

  • Protects against the venereal disease commonly transmitted by bulls.
  • Bulls can be vaccinated with Zoetis Vibrovax prior to mating, with two 5 ml doses a minimum of 4 weeks apart.

Feedlot entry:

  • If your steers are not immune to pestivirus from natural exposure, Dr Peter Kirkland suggests they should be vaccinated twice before feedlot entry.  Pestivirus suppresses the immune system and if steers are susceptible to pestivirus they are likely to become infected in a feedlot and then also susceptible to respiratory disease.
  • Steers should be protected against Bovine Respiratory Disease (BRD) caused by Mannheimia haemolytica and Infectious Bovine Rhinotracheitis IBR by vaccinating twice with a product like Tasvax Bovilis MH + IBR.  The second shot should be given at least 2 weeks prior to feedlot entry.  The first shot can be given between 14 and 180 days prior.

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.