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What You Need to Know About Vaccination Protocols

Vaccine programs for cattle can help prevent livestock diseases, including diseases of the respiratory system and those that could lead to sudden death. Many severe viral and bacterial diseases can be prevented with vaccines. 

Please work with your Veterinarian to develop the best vaccination protocols for your herd. 

  1. Consult with your veterinarian – only a vet working with you and your animals can advise you. Also, your veterinarian can advise you about any seasonal outbreaks and disease risk based on your geographic location and livestock type.
  2. Review the manufacturer documentation, protocols and recommendations – they differ based on stock type, drug type, climate, geographic reason, disease profiles and end goals of your program.  

A proper partnership with both your veterinarian and your animal health supplier will lead to far better and more profitable outcomes for your ranch. 

Vaccines can prevent many serious diseases in cattle

Needles and Vaccination Protocols

When giving a vaccine to the cattle, always read the label on the product first. They can vary in dosages or sites for vaccination, so it is vital to be certain beforehand. Even if you gave the same vaccine to your animals previously, still consult the package label or insert. Again, this is why you need to have a veterinarian to consult with. 

Next, you will need to choose the right size and length of the needle for injection. For mature cattle, use a needle with a large diameter (a 16-gauge needle, with a B bevel tip is recommended by the Beef Quality Assurance program.), because they have thick hides and a thinner needle can break. For calves, since their skin is thinner, you can use a needle with a smaller diameter (like 18-gauge, B bevel tip).

Why is the needle size important? Because of different skin thickness between calves and mature cattle. The choice of the needle also depends on the fluid itself, the viscosity. Thicker solutions would require a needle with a bigger opening. A 16 gauge is bigger than an 18 gauge, while a smaller one can be used for more liquid products.  Your veterinarian will help you make the right decision. 

Disposable vs. Reusable Syringes

Disposable syringes are typically for treating or vaccinating a small number of animals. They are plastic, simple, and inexpensive. 

For large numbers of animals, many ranchers use repeater syringes. Repeater syringes are more expensive but are reusable. They are also more heavy-duty with glass, thick plastic, and metal components. Repeater syringes can hold more product, can be set to a variety of doses, and allow for a much faster application.

Choosing the right needles and syringes is important
Choosing the right needles and syringes is important

Automatic Syringes

Apart from disposable and reusable syringes for vaccination protocols, you can also purchase and use automatic draw off syringes. These involve a tube that can be inserted into the bottle with the vaccine and are easy to handle.

Using automatic or repeater syringes has several advantages for the ranchers. They are durable and can be used much longer than the disposable or the simple reusable syringes. They allow you to administer product to more animals faster while still giving a very precise dose without wasting any product and overall is less stress on the animal.

How to Handle Vaccines

At the time of giving vaccines, it is crucial to handle them correctly. First, vaccines should always be refrigerated at the proper temperature as indicated on the label. Protect them from sunlight and heat because those will decrease the efficacy of most vaccines. To achieve that, you can set up a cooler for syringes so the vaccines stay protected and at the proper temperature between shots.  A good vaccine cooler and proper protocols that adhere to all of the manufacturer guidelines are critical to ensuring the best outcomes for your stock.

These products on Animal Health Express can help you with your vaccinations:

Next, to care for vaccines at the chute, utilize these vaccine coolers. If you are mixing vaccines, keep in mind that they need to be used within a very short amount of time, so do not mix extra doses when manufacturer guidelines require use quickly. Also, always use clean needles for administering new doses of products and mixing to avoid contaminants.  

Handle cattle vaccines properly
Handle vaccines properly

What is BQA?

Beef Quality Assurance is a nationally coordinated, state implemented program that provides systematic information to U.S. beef producers and beef consumers of how common sense husbandry techniques can be coupled with accepted scientific knowledge to raise cattle under optimum management and environmental conditions.

This program provides simple vaccination procedures and product handling best practices. 

You can become BQA certified by participating in a state program or going online. Please review this website: