Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Branding Time Vaccination Reminders

Kari Lewis, MSU Extension - Glacier County

With April right around the corner, I know many folks will be thinking of branding calves or have
already begun doing their spring cattle work.  With that in mind, today we’ll review a few Beef Quality Assurance (BQA) guidelines for vaccinating calves. 

First, develop a complete herd health vaccination protocol.  Each producer should have a working relationship with a veterinarian who can recommend the correct products for your herd.

Before administering vaccinations, it’s critical to read and follow the label in terms of dosage, timing of the vaccination and route of administration.  Last weekend as I doctored a sick bull, I commented to my husband that I hadn’t previously realized that the antibiotic required that it warm to room temperature before being administered.  Kaleb looked at me and asked, ‘You read the label, didn’t you?’  Yes, I did!

It’s also important to read the label to know on modified live vaccinations how much time you have before it needs to be used up.  Therefore, you don’t want to mix more vaccine than you can use within that time period.  When mixing vaccine, use transfer needles if a product is to be reconstituted, and roll the bottle to mix, versus shaking the bottle.  Rolling the bottle reduces the amount of bubbles that are formed during the mixing process, compared to shaking the bottle. 

When giving multiple injections, vaccinations should be administered at least 4 inches apart to get the best response.  10 cc is the maximum amount that should be administered into any one site.  If you have multiple folks giving vaccines, make sure they have a system to know the location on the calf where the vaccines are going, or if you’ll be using chalk paint to mark where shots have already been given.  All vaccinations should be given in the neck region to ensure that there is not an impact on future meat quality or tenderness. 

Needles should be changed every 10 to 20 animals.  At a minimum, needles should be changed before refilling the vaccine gun to avoid contaminating the vaccine bottle. 

Make sure to keep vaccines out of direct sunlight or extreme temperature as this can reduce the efficacy of the vaccine.  This can be as simple as creating some shade with a coat or cooler.

Lastly, make sure that everyone on your crew is trained to apply these Beef Quality Assurance practices.  Once you’ve spent the money on purchasing vaccine, you want maximum efficacy through following the label, proper procedures, and using a trained crew that has attention to detail.  Finally, make sure to also record the vaccines given, who administered them, the route, etc. for future reference.

Graphic courtesy of Michigan State Extension, by D. Buskirk

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