Vaccinations made easy

Creating a complete vaccination protocol for your herd is complex, but consideration to a few key areas will make it easier. Photo by contributed

Disease prevention is clearly the desired outcome of a successful vaccination program.

However, understanding the risk of disease within a herd is challenging and often decisions to include or remove particular vaccines are not straight forward.

Documented vaccination protocols have been a frequent request from producers this year, but complete plans rarely translate between enterprises due to a range of factors.

We currently have 17 individual protocols for vaccines and it is not uncommon for a single farm to use three to five unique products.

Creating the complete protocol is complex but consideration to a few key areas will make it easier.

Firstly, consider disease prevalence on-farm and within the district.

Each farm has intrinsic requirements regarding vaccination — some are not negotiable, others are developed over years of observation and success in reducing disease incidence.

Industry trends of vaccine use and disease prevalence may also be reviewed to improve your decision making.

Your local animal health adviser will be able to highlight benefits of existing and new vaccines that may not have been considered.

Secondly, weigh up the risk of disease versus vaccination.

Commercial vaccines are accompanied by a wealth of supporting information and resources to assist assessment of individual herd risk and the economic implications of both outbreak and endemic disease.

Ask your vet two questions. Do I still need to vaccinate? Should I be using more vaccine? New vaccines are currently available and registered for use on dairy farms, you will be more informed of your options.

Thirdly, create a complete plan that covers all relevant animal classes.

Check that the protocol clearly covers all animal classes (and potential introductions) on-farm, including calves, heifers, cow and bulls. Multiple joining and calving periods increase complexity.

Ensure you have the ability to complete as per protocol, having appropriate resourcing vaccination on hand at the right time.

Finally, educate your team for the best outcome and review annually.

Compliance to the program may be challenging, especially with complex herd structures.

Having the team well informed and trained drives better outcomes in disease prevention and management. Staff training sessions can drive improved vaccination technique and compliance to protocols.

The vaccination program should be visible to all staff and considered a ‘live’ document.

Our approach is to review the vaccination programs yearly as a minimum. Reviews establish future requirements and also assesses compliance on the existing/previous plan.

If you need assistance call your local dairy vet — our ProDairy team are more than willing to assist.

Dr Luke Morison is a key member of the ProDairy team, working for Apiam Animal Health as a veterinarian and Business Manager for Dairy.