Vaccinating Cows

Over the last several weeks we have been vaccinating the cows.

Why Vaccinate?

Disease prevention is an important component of any beef herd’s management. A producer has three management options to address the effects of diseases:

  1. Prevent the access of the disease to the herd. Biosecurity is the main method used to prevent diseases from entering the herd.
  2. Increase the resistance to infectious diseases within the herd. The only direct means a producer has to increase resistance to an infectious disease is through vaccination.
  3. Treat infected animals (BCRC, March 2016).

The disease risk or exposure cattle face on every farm is different. Biosecurity concerns maybe minimal if one has a closed herd, where there are no purchased breeding stock (bulls or heifers) and no contact with other herds across the fence or in a community pasture. In our case, we purchase bulls almost every year and have contact with other neighbouring cattle either across the fence or in a mixed pasture in the case of yearlings.

Vaccines are part of an overall herd health protocol. In the past, we have talked about the vaccine protocols for calves, at weaning, and for yearlings. Today we will look at the cows.

Pre-Calving Scour Vaccine

Successful vaccination results from the stimulation of the acquired immune response. Technology has improved and today’s cattle vaccines are more effective than any other time in history.

In late February we gave the first dose of ScourGuard to the bred heifers. ScourGuard is the vaccination of healthy, pregnant cows and heifers as an aid in preventing diarrhea in their calves.Compared with unvaccinated controls, ScourGuard has been shown to reduce mortality caused by E. Coli by 95%. A second dose is required 3 weeks after the first and about 3-6 weeks before calving. We have just been completing that second dose as the heifers are scheduled to start calving April 20 and the cows around May 1.

The Beef Cattle Research Council has a webinar online about Economical Vaccine Protocols. The Saskatchewan Cattlemen’s Association is hosting a Spring Vaccination Protocol for Beef Cow Herds webinar April 26th at 10am with Dr. Nathan Erickson of the Western College of Veterinary Medicine. Click here to learn more.


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