Everyone should be vaccinating their cowherd with 9-way (modified live pre-breeding vaccine) every year after calving and before breeding. You will not save money by avoiding it. Sooner or later it will cost you thousands of dollars in poor conception rates or slipped calves. In the case of B.V.D. you will experience unthrifty, small, sometimes hairless, freaky looking calves as well.
Lots of herds have B.V.D. carriers among them right now and the producer is completely unaware of it. When I and other feedlot operators buy these calves in the fall (those that look normal) we vaccinate them with a live B.V.D. vaccine. Re-exposure to live BVD virus may trigger a fatal form of the disease. It is an expensive way to eliminate carrier calves, but we don’t want them in our herd anyway. If we don’t vaccinate, we run into other problems that cost us even more. If these inefficiencies were not in the cattle business we would pay more for calves in the fall, even on a poor market.
Here is something else to be aware of. Sometime, within the next two years, we will be forced to electronically scan all cattle with R.F.I.D. tags. It won’t be much of a stretch from there to backtrack and pin point where the non-vaccinated calves originated. Do you think lawsuits could ensue? Most cattle feeders get quite irate when a dozen or so calves die shortly after they arrive. Do you blame them? What if you sold a “one owner” group of replacement heifers at a sale and your neighbor bought them? Then he puts them through his regular vaccination program. How popular would you be when most of them die because they were B.V.D. carriers?
When you vaccinate your calves in the spring, forget about using a two way vaccine. Use a seven-way vaccine with Somnus (Iteme). It will cost you less than a dollar per head more, but well worth it.
Are you going to get paid more for your calf because of it? Not at first. You won’t get paid more than your neighbor that doesn’t use the proper vaccine at a presorted sale where his calves get sorted in with yours. However, it will pay back many fold in the long run. Feedlots and backgrounders keep track of where the cattle that they bought came from.
Not only that, but what if you decide to keep some calves over winter yourself, maybe some small ones, maybe some replacement heifers. Do you know how many cattle you could have vaccinated for the price of even one calf that died from lack of vaccine protection? The medication dollars amount to far more than vaccination dollars. An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.
No, we don’t sell vaccines or medication. Contact your local veterinarian for more information on vaccination programs.