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|Dry cow vaccines prevent disease|
|El Lechero Dairy Basics - Herd Health|
|Written by Tom Fuhrmann|
|Thursday, 10 February 2011 13:23|
It’s easier for you and better for the cows if we can keep health problems from occurring rather than treat them after they occur.
The dairy owner and his or her veterinarian have developed a vaccination program based on the principle that vaccines prevent disease while antibiotics treat disease.
Many of these vaccines are administered at dry-off or during the dry period. Vaccinating cows and heifers at this time can prevent health problems for both the cow and her calf.
Protecting the cow
Antibodies are little “soldiers-in-waiting” that hang around in the cow’s body waiting for an enemy to strike. For example, many veterinarians recommend vaccinating dry cows against the viral diseases of IBR, BVD, PI3 and BRSV.
These enemies are constantly attacking the cow and can cause abortions, respiratory disease, milk loss and even death.
But the vaccinated cow has protection as antibodies produced by the vaccines you administer destroy these viral agents before they establish infection in the cow.
Even though vaccines are administered only once each year at dry-off, the antibodies persist for a long time, protecting the cow at calving and through the rest of her lactation.
Similar to the viral infections mentioned above, Clostridial bacteria can easily invade tissue like the birth canal, which can be damaged or lacerated during normal calving.
Once they get into tissue, these Clostridial bacteria produce a potent toxin that infiltrates birth canal tissue (e.g. swollen vulva) and then enters the cow’s blood, causing death as quickly as in 24 hours.
In other cases, the Clostridial bacteria get into the intestines, causing hemorrhage and sudden death (the disease referred to as “hemorrhagic bowel syndrome”). This form of Clostridial infection can occur at any time during lactation.
Once infected, cows rarely survive the effects of Clostridial toxins. Treatment is futile; protection given from vaccines is the only tool we have to prevent this devastating disease.
Your dairy owner and veterinarian may include other vaccines in the dry cow program. Risk for diseases like Salmonellosis and Leptospirosis vary from dairy to dairy and therefore not all vaccination programs are the same for every dairy.
Each is designed to protect the cow or heifer from infection risk rather than treating after infection occurs.
Protecting the calf
But vaccines do not stimulate antibody development in the calf that is growing inside the cow’s uterus. That means newborn calves are very susceptible to infection.
Fortunately, colostrum contains antibodies and when fed to the calf immediately after birth, these antibodies are transferred to the calf to protect it.
After proper dry cow vaccination, colostrum is fortified with additional, specific antibodies to better protect the newborn. Colostrum-deprived calves are very susceptible to infections that often result in death, despite treatment.
Calves fed colostrum can withstand many of these infections. Calves fed antibody-rich colostrum from properly vaccinated dry cows and close-up heifers stand the best chance of resisting disease and rarely need to be treated for illness.
Tips for vaccinating dry cows
1. Modified Live Viral vaccines (MLV’s) require mixing sterile water or liquid vaccine with powder before using. Mix according to directions (ask if you are not sure) and use these vaccines within one hour of mixing.
Potency (ability to stimulate antibody development in the cow’s body) diminishes when these vaccines are not used immediately. Never store these reconstituted vaccines in a refrigerator to use days later.
2. Administer vaccines according to directions on the label or in the manner your boss describes. Some are to be given in the nose (many specify squirting one cc in each nostril, for example).
Others are to be given in the muscle or under the skin (subcutaneously). Incorrect administration can reduce antibody production in the cow or heifer.
3. Administer the full dose. Unlike antibiotics, which are administered in relatively large doses, vaccines are potent and stimulate protection with small doses.
Failure to administer the entire dose results in lower levels of antibody protection. It is easy to be in a hurry to vaccinate a large group of dry cows, but don’t compromise speed for accuracy.
Dry cow vaccination is critical to having a healthy herd. Vaccines can prevent disease in your cows so you don’t have to treat them later.
You are the key person that makes a good vaccination program work because you understand and administer vaccines correctly. EL