By Dr Glenn Cuzens

Annual vaccinations in your milking cows are important for two reasons:

  1. Boosting the immunity of the milking herd to common and/or important diseases.
  2. Ensuring the colostrum fed to your calves has abundantantibodies to these common/important diseases.
  3. To protect yourselves and workers from diseases transmitted by cows.

Most vaccines are given as a killed version of the pathogen - this stimulates the vaccinated animals’ immune system to recognize that virus/bacteria as foreign. The body makes antibodies to these, which remain in the bloodstream ready to act the next time this animal is exposed to that pathogen. The antibodies will also be present in colostrum. Some vaccines are given as modified live versions of the pathogen - these give the animal a weak version of the disease and in some cases are dangerous to use in pregnant animals. It is always worth checking when the best time can be to use a vaccine if you’re unfamiliar with using it.

The common vaccines:

Ultra vac 7in1 – This covers vaccination for the major clostridial diseases and Leptospirosis. It is important to use this vaccine to prevent leptospirosis in people.

Pestigard – Used in herds where the risk of introduction of pestivirus is likely to lead to significant losses. It may also be used as part of an eradication program in herds diagnosed with active pestivirus infection. Before embarking upon a vaccination program for pestivirus discuss your options with one of our vets.

Piliguard – A vaccine to make stock more resistant against pinkeye, especially important in young stock. Piliguard works best when given a month prior to the fly season so should be used on calves in spring.

VibriovaxALL BULLS should be vaccinated against vibriosis, the last dose given 6 weeks prior to joining. In herds with a history of vibriosis it is beneficial to vaccinate the cows 4-6 weeks prior to joining

Salmonella Vaccine – If your herd or calves have had salmonella outbreaks it is important to boost calf immunity through vaccinating the cows in a timely manner. Initial vaccines are best 8 and 3 weeks prior to calving and boosters 4-6 weeks before calving. Please note the vaccine will only be effective if it contains the same strain of salmonella as present in the vaccine. Laboratory diagnosis of salmonella is essential before vaccination. There are a couple of different vaccines available for use.

Ultravac Scourshield (killed) – Useful in farms where calf scours is an annual issue and coronavirus, rotavirus and or E. coli have been diagnosed as contributing factors. Appropriate vaccination of the cows and good colostrum management will aid in prevention of these conditions. In previously unvaccinated herds and in heifers Scourshield is administered as two doses 4-6 weeks apart. The second of these doses and the annual booster is best given at dry off 4-6 weeks prior to calving. For success with Scourshield, sound colostrum management protocols need to be followed. For best colostral antibody levels to be transferred to the calf, it is important to have accurate predicted calving dates. This will allow for administration of vaccines at the correct time. Which of these vaccines does my herd need?

The MUST DO’s7in1deal

7in1 – this covers for a lot of sudden death syndromes and Leptospirosis. Lepto can cause serious health risks for any stock workers
coming in contact with urine or uterine fluid. Some vaccines will no prevent shedding of lepto in urine, for this reason we recommend Ultravac 7in1.

Vibriovax for bulls new bulls require two doses 4 weeks apart and an annual booster in retained bulls. These doses are best given more than 6 weeks before the bulls start work to allow for good semen production and proper immunity development.

Piliguard – If pinkeye has been a problem in your weaners or herd, vaccinating them with Piliguard one month prior to the appearance of dust and flies can greatly reduce the number of stock affected. This vaccination is especially important in young stock. In herds using numerous vaccines at drying off it is important not to overload the immune system so giving more than two different vaccines within a week of each other can render them less effective. Ultravac Scourshield is better used alone and should definitely not be administered within a week of a Salmonella Vaccine.

Here is an example of a 12 monthly vaccination regimen:



Please contact one of our vets to answer any questions you may have.