Cost versus income always is key, but cost versus prevention also is important.
In other words, producers spend money to make money and spend money to protect money. Both costs are relevant.
In reviewing the Dickinson Research Extension Center's calf vaccinations, the calves were vaccinated during early summer to protect against the common pathogens that like to kill calves. Of the two vaccinations, one cost $3.20 per calf and the other 86 cents for a total of $4.06.
These same calves will receive a booster vaccination prior to weaning, which will be followed by a weaning booster. Those two may be delayed depending on the location of the calves and how convenient or accessible the calves are. Either way, they will get a second and third booster.
The level of protection and efficacy of the vaccination will vary depending on how the calves are managed and handled throughout the preweaning, weaning and postweaning period. The less stress, the better. The appropriate vaccination program should be chosen in consultation with a veterinarian and designed to match the producer's marketing protocols.
The center maintains and overwinters all calves, thus the desire to achieve maximum immune response to the veterinarian's recommended vaccinations. These vaccinations provide protection against infectious bovine rhinotracheitis virus, bovine viral diarrhea type II and bovine respiratory syncytial virus.
These vaccines also aid in the control of bovine viral diarrhea type I and bovine parainfluenza 3 virus, as well as bacterial agents pasteurella haemolytica and pasteurella multocida.
The clostridial bacterin-toxoid includes blackleg caused by clostridium chauvoei; malignant edema caused by Cl. septicum; black disease caused by Cl. novyi; gas-gangrene caused by Cl. sordellii; and enterotoxemia and enteritis caused by Cl. perfringens types C and D, plus histophilus (haemophilus) somnus.
The total bill for this protection would be $12.18 but offers protection to a calf that has a value of $1,000 or more. In simple terms, a little more than 1.2 percent of the value of the calf is invested in preventive vaccinations. Put another way, the money invested in 100 calves will pay for itself by saving one calf.
Unfortunately, pathogens generally are not very kind and can kill one calf or multiple calves from the inventory. Also, if a pen of calves quits gaining weight at 2.5 pounds per day, the producer still losses the equivalent of a calf every four days. A pen of sick calves is not a desired outcome to weaning.