Calving season is approaching in fall-calving areas, and getting those calves off to a healthy start is top of mind for cattle producers. Preventing respiratory disease is not only best for overall animal health and productivity, but recent studies demonstrate there can be an economic benefit for the cow/calf operation, according to a Zoetis "Quick Tip."
Zoetis noted that the Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association (JAVMA) recently published a study based on a survey of cow/calf producers in multiple states. The study evaluated and compared the costs of vaccines and vaccine administration to calves for disease protection with the medication and labor costs of treating a calf with respiratory disease.
The JAVMA study showed that, in many cases, the costs associated with prevention — vaccine costs plus the labor cost to administer vaccines — were considerably less than the medication and labor costs to treat disease, Zoetis said, noting that the median vaccine cost per calf in the surveyed herds was $6.25, while the labor cost was $5 for administering vaccine to calves. The cost of medicine to treat a sick calf averaged $11, while treatment labor costs were $15 per calf.
This study revealed that the cost per calf to treat respiratory disease is more than twice the cost of preventing respiratory disease, the company noted.
A young calf’s immune system is unique in how it responds to viral and bacterial challenges, Zoetis said, adding that calfhood vaccinations can complement what the dam provides through colostrum to help give a calf every chance to be healthy and perform to its potential. Timing of administration and the type of vaccine given play key roles in managing the young calf’s immune response.
A Montana study looked at the impact timing and sequence of vaccination had on the immune response in nursing calves given an intranasal vaccine. The study demonstrated that the intranasal vaccine works with the calf’s immune system to prevent respiratory disease caused by bovine respiratory syncytial virus and helps prevent respiratory disease caused by infectious bovine rhinotracheitis and para-influenza 3 virus, Zoetis said.
“The Montana study and research out of North Dakota demonstrated that vaccination at birth can improve future responses to vaccination while helping provide protection against respiratory diseases from birth to weaning,” Zoetis director of immunology and biologicals Dr. Victor Cortese explained.
Cortese suggested three things a cow/calf producer may see after implementing young calf respiratory vaccinations:
1. Lower pneumonia rates;
2. Less death loss, and
3. Greater weight gains.