Herd Health -- Optional or Mandatory?

by Darol Dickinson

Some cattle producers administer no vaccinations or shots of any kind. On the other hand, at Dickinson Cattle Co, we would probably be considered hypochondriacs by the “no-shot” folks.

Under different conditions both of the above are right. It depends on where you live, your ranch terrain, livestock weather protection, exposure and, very big -- the introduction of new cattle to the herd.

As a short, fast, first-blush, if cattle are poor-doers from the far south, perhaps there has been parasite internal damage causing a reduction of health. Liver flukes are the first place to point a finger -- they eat away at the liver, if not treated, and the normal liver function deteriorates. In the far north an animal may be a poor-doer with no parasite issues, but have reduced lung function from bouts of pneumonia.

*When driving a herd, the cattle that fall to the rear are telling you something. They are the ones to watch that may be weakened by some sickness, droopy ears, excessive diarrhea, hoof or leg issues. Always watch the cows behind the herd for heavy breathing, and sluggishness. They are telling you something about their health.
–Doug Burris photo.

Some ranches are in the north-south migratory path of birds that may be eating from a farm corral in Cuba and 2 days later pooping in show cattle feed troughs in the USA.

Registered cattle producers are held to a higher standard than commercial ranchers. Valued breeding stock may live a full productive life providing dozens of progeny. Texas Longhorns may produce until their twenties giving more life-years for disease exposure. Commerical cattle are mostly processed before 30 months and seldom breed to age ten.

The King’s deer are a source of disease transfer, as with the Buffalo in Yellow Stone. The movement of tuberculosis in wildlife has hammered the cattle producers in Michigan for nearly 2 dozen years. The King is your worst neighbor for never giving vaccinations or any sort of disease prevention.

Adding new breeding stock to the herd is the main source of disease introduction. Bringing in new cattle from unknown, or a no-herd-health-program is very risky business. The more of these introductions the more multiplication of opportunities for herd contamination. The same goes for sales or shows where numbers of cattle are not “social-distancing” as Dr. Fauci warns. A closed herd with no introductions of new blood is safest, unless the cattle come from herds known for serious health protection.

Not to be overly alarmed, most diseases are avoidable with a serious herd health program. This is the regular health protocol at Dickinson Cattle Co. It quite possibly is more, or less than your good large animal vet would recommend for you in your area. Have him look it over with you and make any recommendations. This is a place to start, and may be just right for your own peace of mind, the humane production of a healthy herd, and good results for your buying customers.

Herd Health Registered Bovine
Annual Program DCC

June   vibrio, lepto 5 -- Trivib 5L
worm -- safeguard drench
Vapor fly ear tag - Bayer cylence ultra or corathon
Calves   day of birth - selenium shot, weigh, ear tag with sire and
dam’s name, ID photo
Calves   4 weeks of age --endovac
one fly vapor tag
Late Fall   Cows & Bulls
Virashield 6 +L5HB
7 - Way black leg
Worm - Ivomec pour-on
(always use a different worm
product per application)
Remove fly tag
Preg check all cows, Johne’s test
all adults with blood.
Calves   virashield 6 + L5HB + booster
7-way black leg + booster
Endovac + booster
Worm - Ivomec pour-on
Remove fly tag
Brand with holding and
ID number

Heifer calves Bangs OCV vaccination, record number on ITLA registration certificate for permanent record. For females to enter some states an official OCV tattoo which is proof of vaccination must be visible. This regulation is becoming less strengent as Bangs is almost totally eleminated in all states. Montana and some other states refuse entry for adult cows without OCV vaccinations.

Don’t give all vaccinations on weaned calves the same day -- minimize stress by giving half the vaccinations a couple weeks apart.

Parts of the nation do 100% anthrax vaccinations like Uvalde, TX area. Local vets know.

Coastal areas of the US deal with liver flukes with injections. Vaccines differ in needs for other areas -- your good experienced large animal vet will know.

All purchased cattle leave DCC with a last minute pour-on ivomec. When they arrive at their destination they are 100% free of body parasites.

Although buyers seldom know all these health precautions are taken in their behalf, good healthy cattle for many months to come is the result.

DCC 12-15-20 -- health/vaccination protocol for all DCC cattle.