Think of it this way: a preemptive strike early in a calf’s life helps prepare it for disease challenges during the grazing season, at weaning and beyond. It’s like priming the immunity pump in the spring to ensure everything works better in the fall.
“Spring vaccinations for respiratory disease set calves up for success during the summer grazing season,” said Jon Seeger, managing veterinarian with Zoetis. “Fall vaccinations help calves respond to disease challenges during weaning and comingling.”
Seeger says it is key to protect calves against viral diseases that cause respiratory challenges like bovine respiratory syncytial virus (BRSV), infectious bovine respiratory (IBR) disease and parainfluenza 3 (PI3).
“We see great value in the rapid, lasting immune response to the intranasal administration in the spring with young calves,” said Seeger. “But we also see a more robust immune response when we booster at pre-weaning with modified-live combination vaccine when it follows the intranasal in the spring.”
Research at North Dakota State University demonstrated a significant (p=0.006) immune response to BRSV in calves given an intranasal vaccination at approximately 74 days of age, and again when boosted 153 days later.1
“The real benefit for calves to have the first dose in the spring is that if they are exposed to a disease challenge mid-summer, they have a better immune response and are less likely to get sick than if they aren’t vaccinated before summer grazing.”
Seeger also says it is important not to forget protecting against Mannheimia haemolytica and bovine viral diarrhea (BVD) types 1 and 2.
Seeger concludes that producers should think of spring vaccinations as first steps in building a complete immunization plan for the calf. “Our goal is to set the calf’s immune system up for success in responding to disease challenges,” said Seeger.
1Stokka GL, Neville B, Seeger JT, Stoltenow C, Dyer N, Gaspers JJ. Evaluation of the serologic effect of concurrent IBR, BRSV, PI3 and Mannheimia vaccination and time interval between the first and second dose on the subsequent serological response to the Mannheimia toxoid and BRSV fractions on spring-born beef calves in North Dakota. North Dakota Beef Report 2014;40-42.