Vaccination of calves for the reduction of the consumption of antibiotics

Poor biosecurity, animal regrouping or introduction of new animals to the herd might cause the appearance of previously unseen infectious diseases on the farm, therefore antibiotics sometimes are used to fight secondary or primary infectious agents. In order to reduce necessity of antibiotic use a well-organised prophylactic calf vaccination programme is advised. An effective vaccination protocol can be developed to fit most operations and management approaches.

Most vaccines that are used for calves are made to be injected into muscle or subcutaneously, therefore sterile syringes and needles must be used in order to reduce iatrogenic spread of diseases. Ensure that the vaccines are transported and stored properly (often refrigeration is required). Vaccine preparation needs to be done with clean hands, and strictly according to producer instructions. Read the instructions on the package to make sure the correct dosage is given. Ideally use 16-18 gauge x 1.5-3 cm long needles. If using an automatic vaccination gun make sure it is sterilised and clean. Check the gun is calibrated and working correctly. Subcutaneously (SQ) this injection goes between the skin and muscle, but not into the muscle. It is the preferred method for protecting meat quality. Always use this method if it is an option given on the label. Intramuscular (IM) injection goes directly into the muscle. To minimize damage to meat, use the muscles in front of the shoulder.

Be sure to record: Date of treatment; Name, lot number and serial number of the product used; Route of administration and give boosters when required. Check calf health status after vaccination and if any unusual side effects are observed please report to your veterinarian.