College Station – Vaccinations are an essential component of preventative medicine when it comes to protecting the health of a herd of cattle.

As National Immunization Awareness Month comes to a close, Dr. Brandon Dominguez, a clinical associate professor at the Texas A&M College of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences, recommends that cattle begin a routine vaccination schedule at a young age with the guidance and administration of an accredited veterinarian.

“Cattle should receive their first vaccination against clostridial diseases and respiratory viruses at least two weeks prior to weaning,” Dominguez said. “When heifers are developed into replacements for the breeding herd, vaccination against leptospirosis, campylobacter, and brucellosis may be recommended. Vaccination for brucellosis should occur between four and 12 months of age.”

Dominguez stresses the importance of vaccinating for clostridial diseases, respiratory viruses, and bacteria that cause reproductive problems in cattle.

After the initial vaccination, cattle in breeding herds should be vaccinated annually against some diseases and other vaccinations are on a semi-annual basis.

To determine what vaccinations are necessary for their herd, owners should consult a veterinarian to discuss the proximity and potential exposure to disease.

Owners may notice mild side effects after vaccination like swelling at or around the injection site. If any uncommon or severe side effects are noted, owners should contact their veterinarian immediately.

“Injection site swellings may be a concern. Modified live vaccines are known to cause problems when given to pregnant cattle, especially if they have not received the vaccination previously,” Dominguez advised. “Vaccination against gram-negative bacteria, which are many of the disease-causing bacteria, may cause a reaction if too many gram-negative bacteria are vaccinated against at the same time.”

There are many factors to consider when deciding on the right vaccination program for a herd of cattle. As always, owners should look to their veterinarian with any questions, concerns, or recommendations regarding immunizations.