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The Moo News

Newsletter of Penn Dutch Cow Care                                                  July/Aug 2000

            This month’s topic is immunization. Any immunization plan is most effective if uniquely set up for your specific circumstances. But, please remember that any immunization program can be rendered ineffective by unusually strong environmental pressures such as muck-filled pens/boxstalls/hutches, poor ventilation, poor water quality and high animal density. That being said, immunizing dairy cattle in our area is probably wiser to do than not. I say this mainly because of the likelihood of confronting a hot, infectious disease through the addition of an animal to the herd, bringing back heifers from a grower’s farm elsewhere and with all the various agricultural people passing through many local barns everyday. (Who else but the vet or AI tech washes their boots when leaving your farm or the previous one??)

            Vaccinating is the easiest and cheapest way to immunize your cows. Vaccines are tested under field conditions (hot challenges) before being legally approved and marketed. The two kinds, killed and modified-live, stimulate different parts of the immune system. The killed type stimulates B-cells to make antibodies to neutralize challenges while the modified-live type stimulates T-cells to kill challenges. In my opinion, the most important bugs to immunize against are BVD, IBR, Lepto and haemophilus. The viral part of the killed vaccines needs to be boosted annually, while the modified-live gives protection for 12-18 months. Lepto needs to be boosted at least twice a year. Do not vaccinate on hot days; wait until autumn or a rainy day if sooner.

            The potential drawbacks to vaccination are few, but real. Often a milk-drop will be seen, perhaps abortion(s) and maybe abscesses at the injection site. This is mainly with the killed type. The modified-live type does not cause these effects, but since it is a somewhat living virus it reproduces itself in a limited way once injected into the animal. This is what sets up a stronger immunity than killed vaccines, but may also weaken the animal’s vitality in the long run because of reproducing itself within the animal.

            Homeopathic nosodes are an alternative, but there are a few things that should be kept in mind: (1) there have been no hot-challenge field trials conducted in any animal with nosodes except one study with dogs and (2) nosodes are meant to be manufactured during an actual outbreak and given back to the cows as a treatment, not as a preventative. If you are interested in making a nosode for your herd, ask me at your next herd check how we can go about it best. They can be helpful with viral problems and mastitis.

            Remember that any homeopathic remedy found on your farm during an inspection must be legally labeled or you will be debited 7 points. Legal labels include the name of the remedy, its uses, its dosage, its expiration date, any milk or meat withholding time, the written signature of the vet and the date of signature. Anything less is not legal.

For Bovinity Health, information on functional alternatives to antibiotics see:

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