Prioritise livestock vax

Spring is here, which is often the busiest time on a farm, and it can be easy to neglect important preventative steps for your livestock that will save you later.

During spring, losses due to clostridial diseases such as pulpy kidney, blackleg and black disease become a distinct possibility.

Little can be done to treat an animal affected by these clostridial diseases, the first sign is often discovering animals dead in the paddock.

Therefore the emphasis should be on prevention, and the key to prevention is to vaccinate your livestock. To be effective, vaccines need to be given strategically.

Most vaccines give up to 12 months of protection and should be given at least annually.

As with any vaccination program, adult cows should be vaccinated about one month prior to calving to give their calves ‘maternal’ or ‘passive’ immunity through the colostrum.

Passive immunity lasts for about their first six weeks of life.

After this, calves must be vaccinated twice to gain ‘active’ immunity. This should be carried out by two injections four to six weeks apart.

The first vaccination is often given at marking and the second vaccination is given four to six weeks later.

The enterotoxaemia vaccine is known for having a short duration of immunity, with only three or four months of protection.

Therefore a booster dose should be given strategically before a high-risk period, that is, before the beginning of spring.

Hopefully all farmers will benefit from good spring conditions — without being vexed by the problems that spring may bring.

For further advice, contact your local veterinarian or agriculture department veterinary or animal health officer.