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Agricultural News

University of Nebraska Veterinary Epidemiologist Brian Vander Ley on Vaccine Efficacy, Management

Tue, 18 Dec 2018 14:51:31 CST

University of Nebraska Veterinary Epidemiologist Brian Vander Ley on Vaccine Efficacy, Management Why and when to vaccinate calves for which diseases-those are not automatic or routine decisions. Certified Angus Beef talked with someone who put it all in perspective in terms of your herd health and bottom line.

Vaccinate on arrival. That feedyard practice is decades old, but some are starting to ask if those shots are doing as much good as hoped.

“We actually have seen trends in the overall prevalence of respiratory disease in feedlot cattle go up despite our efforts to change things,” said Brian Vander Ley, Veterinary epidemiologist, University of Nebraska-Lincoln. “So, we have better vaccines, we have better drugs, in terms of antimicrobials and we have producers that are more aware of what they should be doing-and despite all of those things we have more sick calves and more calves that are dying in the feedlot.”

To watch a brief videoclip of Brian Vander Ley, veterinary epidemiologist at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, talk about applying research on vaccine efficacy and best management practices, click or tap the PLAYBOX in the window, below.

Why aren’t things getting better? Maybe the ways we apply new technologies just aren’t helping.

“Most people think of vaccines as something that’s really harmless,” Vander said. “At its worst it cost us a little bit of money that we don’t get any back from. But we do have some interesting data that says that at its worst it can be harmful. I always want to put the caveat in that vaccines are very useful tools, and when used appropriately, and when we expect the right things from them.”

It’s important to identify high-risk calves and limit the stressors that could open doors to other viruses and infections.

“In my opinion weaning is arguably one of the most stressful things that a calf is going to go through in its life,” he remarked. “The only thing in my opinion that compares, is castrating a heavy bull.”

Managing the risk of infectious disease goes hand in hand with managing the space provided for feedyard calves.

“So as pen size goes down we have less potential hosts, and potentially less risk for respiratory disease,” he explained. “In fact, some operators, some producers that feed really high-risk animals will use that as a strategy when their mass treatment start to fail or some of their other intervention strategies don’t work, they will actually just reduce the population of animals in a particular group. And that does a nice job slowing down those outbreaks.”

There’s no reason to guess when it comes to troubleshooting your calf health program. A talk with your veterinarian will point to how much respiratory disease is linked to weaning strategy, Vander Ley says.

“So that when you look at the weaned calves that were weaned for 45 days it dropped the respiratory disease from 35% down to about 6% which is it not unexpected for a group of calves that got transported to a feedlot,” concluded Vander. “So, it is really cool that weaning has that much of an impact and it turns out that when you manage calves correctly the vaccine does not come out a lot. It is kind of sitting there like an insurance policy in your drawer when you don’t have a fire.”

Source - Certified Angus Beef



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