2023 NCBA: Elanco's Thach Winslow speaks on enhanced health with vaccinations

Enhancing health of cattle herds with correct vaccinations
calendar icon 29 March 2023
clock icon 2 minute read

Thach Winslow, DVM, Beef Cattle Veterinarian with Elanco, recently spoke with The Cattle Site’s Sarah Mikesell at the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association at the 2023 annual conference in New Orleans, Louisiana, USA.

Importance of Implementing vaccinations in cow-calf herds

The foundation of the health of a cattle herd is based on its management, genetics, animal husbandry and nutrition, but use of vaccines can enhance the overall herd’s health, according to Winslow. Vaccines can be used to stimulate immunity for critical diseases like bovine viral diarrhea (BVD) and infectious bovine rhinotracheitis (IBR). These two commonly found diseases can be costly to any herd.

“We start out vaccinating young calves to properly prepare them – whether they go into the feed channel or become part of the replacement stock,” said Winslow.

Proper vaccination provides tremendous value, lowers the calves’ risk for infection, and establishes a foundation for reproductive health for the seedstock replacements, according to Winslow.

“I think it’s so important for a producer to work with their veterinarian and understand their production system and the disease threats in their area,” said Winslow.

The environment, grazing conditions, outside threats, and if the herd is registered or commercial are all factors that need to be considered when developing a vaccination protocol for a herd.

“The producer should consider customizing a vaccination protocol for their operation that will work and be profitable,” said Winslow, DVM.

Vaccinations for breeding herds

“At Elanco, we talk about lifetime immunity,” said Winslow. “I want people to understand that doesn't mean that we have a product that gives lifetime immunity.”

Rather, he said lifetime immunity is a concept where a modified live vaccine that stimulates both cell-mediated immunity and humoral immunity, referred to as antibody-mediated immunity, is administered. This gives calves a great foundation for their immune system during their lifetime.

Calves are vaccinated for the feeding industry, but some move on to breeding herd and those cattle need to be reevaluated.

“Because for everything we do, there's intended consequences and unintended consequences," said Winslow. “We recently found that a modified live vaccine too close to breeding can decrease fertility, but a killed vaccine doesn't.”

By shifting from that modified live vaccine foundation to a killed vaccine, conception rates can be increased compared to a modified live vaccine while still providing the needed protection.

“At Elanco, we want to use the right products in the right animals at the right time,” said Winslow. “We can help a producer have a healthier herd by building and maintaining a lifetime of health, immunity and productivity.”

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