Protect Cattle Herd with Vaccination Programs

ISU Extension and Outreach publication provides plan for keeping beef and dairy cattle healthy


AMES, Iowa – Choosing the correct type of vaccine to use on beef and dairy cattle is extremely important to the long-term health of a herd.

Guidelines for choosing the correct vaccination program and a timeline for giving those vaccines are laid out in a new Iowa State University Extension and Outreach publication titled ‘Beef and Dairy Cattle Vaccination Programs’ (IBC 111).

The publication is authored by Grant Dewell, associate professor in beef production and extension beef veterinarian, and Patrick Gorden, senior clinician in veterinary diagnostics and production animal medicine at Iowa State. It can be accessed online at the ISU Extension and Outreach Store.

“Good vaccination programs are vital to establishing an animal health program to control infectious diseases in cattle,” Dewell said. “Each cow herd is unique and vaccine programs should be tailored to meet the potential challenges along with a solid biosecurity program.”

Vaccine plans change throughout the life of the cow and greatly depend on their purpose. A vaccination program for a dairy cow can be much different than one for a pastured beef cow. Different types of vaccines are also available, with antiserums and modified live viral vaccines two of the most common.

“Although beef and dairy cattle are susceptible to the same infectious agents, the facilities and management of the cattle can produce remarkably different risk scenarios,” Dewell said. “Work with a veterinarian that is familiar with the health parameters of your operation to design a vaccination program for your beef or dairy herd.”

The new publication highlights several common diseases that require vaccinations and provides guidelines for vaccinating members of the herd. The type of vaccines that should be given before a calf is weaned, prior to breeding and before calving are also addressed.