A herd vaccination and external parasite plan is critical to beef cattle producers who what healthy animals and better prices for the calves they sell. Don’t wait until a disease out break occurs before implementing a sound program. The investment in disease prevention is less than the money lost to disease treatment or animal death. For cattle to reach their performance potential, they must be healthy.
The purpose of a vaccination program is to raise the level of resistance to viruses and other pathogens before an animal becomes sick. For vaccines to be effective they must be given at the best time and the animals need time to develop immunity in an environment where stress is minimized; that environment is your pastures while the calf is still with its mother.
Healthy calves are more likely to be born from health mother cows; healthy mothers mean more calves on the ground. When possible herd cows and bulls should be vaccinated prior to your calving season. Mother cows with disease resistances pass on resistance to their calves. Cows and bulls should be tested when exposed to animals with unknown medical histories.
Vaccinating calves will improve their resistance while you still own them. Sick calves reduce total profits. Vaccinations cost money up front, but improve the chances of having maximum calf-crop numbers for sell.
Most calves are healthy when they leave the ranch, but stress caused by weaning, marketing, transportation, changes in environment, and other factors lower the level of disease resistance at a time when exposure to disease challenges is increased. While you may bring healthy calves to a sell barn, buyers know that calves without proper medical histories will cost them more money down the road. Buyers will either avoid buying those animals or offer low prices to help compensate for the risks they are acquiring.
The identity of the ranch which a group of animals came from is often lost once calves leave the ranch. Loss of identity often prevents most commercial cow-calf producers from receiving feedback about the health and performance of their calves beyond their farm or ranch. The beef industry has increasingly become aware of the value of pre- and postweaning calf health management prior to leaving the ranch of origin.
Cattle buyers want the best value for their money, just like you want the most money for your animals. When you bring animals to market that look good, and have been properly vaccinated, buyers will pay more. Each time your animals prove your operations effectiveness by making the buyers money, you will increase your reputation. Buyers will remember that your animals made them money.