Vaccinating cows and heifers prior to spring breeding has proven to be a sound management practice that provides several benefits for cows, calves and producers. Cows have better pregnancy and conception rates. Calves are heavier, healthier and more uniform. And producers end up with better weaning percentages, a higher-value calf crop, less sickness and low medicine costs.
According to Dr. H. Nielsen, professional services veterinarian, Novartis Animal Health, ensuring breeding females have protection from respiratory, reproductive and clostridial diseases at this critical juncture sets the stage for a successful and efficient reproduction program.
“Ultimately, the goal is to ensure a healthy calf from every cow,” said Dr. Nielsen.
“Vaccinating cows before breeding elevates their immunity levels, which protects them from diseases that undermine reproduction. And increasing immunity levels in cows right before breeding season can also help to achieve a shorter breeding cycle and more uniform calf crop.”
Nielsen said that one of the biggest obstacles to a well-managed prebreeding vaccination program is a long calving season. He suggests producers work towards a calving season no longer than 75 to 80 days.
Time and available labor can also become an issue for some producers, especially when the prebreeding period does overlap with calving. But Nielsen said sticking with a prebreeding vaccination regime is less of a burden when producers use vaccines that don’t carry a lot of usage restrictions or complicated labels.
“The key to maintaining and complying with a vaccination program is convenience for the producer,” said Nielsen. “The more convenient we can make it for producers the more likely they are to stick with a program and make sure cows get those vaccinations at the right time.”
Nielsen also advises producers to vaccinate against Lepto hardjo-bovis as part prebreeding in the spring. “Choosing a five- or six-way vaccine that includes Lepto hardjo-bovis has proven to be a highly effective strategy for reducing reproductive failures,” Nielsen says. “And the vaccination pays for itself if it prevents just one calf loss.”
When Novartis developed Vira Shield® 6+VL5 HB, it chose to focus specifically on the Lepto hardjo-bovis isolate that originated in the U.S. Ready to use without being reconstituted, Vira Shield 6+VL5 HB can be used on any animal, including pregnant cows, calves and nursing pregnant cows.
“Producers who want a combination of maximum flexibility and efficacy have found Vira Shield 6+VL5 HB to be a simple and effective way to prevent disease at prebreeding and significantly improve reproduction success rates,” said Nielsen.