Just like human children, calves need vaccinations to stay healthy as they grow up. Two weeks ago we gave our calves their spring vaccinations. What we do with our calves is give three rounds of shots–one set in the spring and two in the fall. This way the calves are prepared for any disease challenges they might encounter during the summer, and are better prepared to stay healthy after they are weaned.
The biggest disease challenge calves face in the summertime is from Clostridial diseases and pinkeye. The Clostridium family of bacteria causes a wide range of diseases. These bacteria are naturally present in soil. One species that humans are regularly vaccinated against is tetanus. The vaccine we use covers seven different species of Clostridium, hence it is known as a “7-way” shot.
Pinkeye, the other common calfhood disease, is caused by Moraxella bovis. This bacteria is spread by flies and causes the eyes to be come red and inflamed. It can potentially cause blindness. To counter this, we use vaccine as well as good fly control products, like insecticide ear tags and fly sprays. The vaccine helps build that calf’s immunity and the fly control keeps away the flies that spread the disease.
Not all rancher’s vaccination programs for their calves are the same. Each rancher tries to match their vaccinations to the diseases they have challenges with. As a veterinarian, I help ranchers make these decisions to optimize the health of the animal. In my opinion, an ounce of prevention is worth much more than a pound of cure.
Another event that occurs at this time is ear tagging. An ear tag is basically an earring for the animal. It can be used to give the animal a number for identification (since one black cow looks exactly like another) or it may have insecticide on it to keep flies off the animal’s face (as we were doing with our calves at this time).
This tag has two parts: a sharp button and the tag. The sharp button punches through the ear when the application gun is squeezed. It sits safely inside a hole in the tag so after it goes through the ear it cannot accidentally cut the animal. The large round base of the button holds the tag in the ear.
And when it is in, it sits comfortably in the calf’s ear.
And that’s it for spring vaccinations and tagging. Now somebody tell Carolyn to just do the calves, not me!