Preventing respiratory disease
With respiratory disease costing the cattle industry up to $1 billion annually from death, reduced feed efficiency and treatment costs, it's easy to understand the value of vaccinating against respiratory disease. For Dr. Phillip Kesterson, Trail Animal Clinic, Bridgeport, Neb., building the most effective vaccination program begins with choosing the right vaccines and proper management.
"No vaccination program will be successful unless cattle are healthy and have competent immune systems," Kesterson says. "Best management practices can help achieve all of this--there is no vaccine for sub-standard management."
Kesterson says proper management coupled with a comprehensive respiratory vaccination program can go a long way in keeping cattle healthy. For many producers, a vaccination program may include an intranasal vaccine--especially when cattle need respiratory protection.
As a herd veterinarian for his cow-calf clients and a consulting feedlot veterinarian, Kesterson has seen just how much trouble bovine respiratory disease can cause any segment of the cattle industry. However, he says it can be especially detrimental in feedlot or stocker operations.
"Obviously, protecting feedlot and stocker cattle against respiratory disease is extremely important because it accounts for the majority of cattle we lose during the feeding phase," Kesterson says. "Chronics add a significant cost to any operation and there are well-documented losses in the quality grading of cattle that suffer from BRD. Successfully immunizing cattle in an expeditious manner obviously helps minimize these problems and costs."
With much of cattle country dealing with drought, hot weather and dusty conditions, Kesterson says producers should be on the lookout for BRD, as fluctuations in weather and an especially dusty environment can further complicate the disease.
In fact, Kesterson says several of his feedlot clients observed a reduction in BRD during a particularly wet fall, enlightening them to the role dust plays in enhancing respiratory problems.
"We dealt with serious mud issues for weeks and fairly cool temperatures, but there was less temperature fluctuation," Kesterson says. "The essential absence of dust that year made a remarkable difference, making it very clear how severely dust can compromise the bovine respiratory system and complicate BRD."
Using an intranasal vaccine during processing events that may occur in dusty, rainy or otherwise stressful weather conditions, or when cattle are shipped and commingled, is often a good option because this type of vaccine helps provide a quick immune response, Kesterson says.
"I have been using intranasal products for over 20 years," Kesterson says. "The intranasal route of administration offers the advantage of the stimulation of a different portion of the immune system compared with injectable vaccines."
Michael Nichols, DVM, Veterinary Operations, Pfizer Animal Health, agrees.
"Using an intranasal vaccine, like INFORCETM 3 respiratory vaccine, allows producers to kick-start an animal's immune system by stimulating mucosal immunity and helping trigger a quick, local immune response," Nichols says. He adds that the vaccine can "help aid in the prevention of diseases caused by infectious bovine rhinotracheitis virus and parainfluenza type 3 virus, as well as prevent disease caused by bovine respiratory syncytial virus--all viruses that can lead to the development of BRD."
What's more, intranasal vaccines can be a useful tool for producers in all segments of the beef industry, including cow-calf operations. Nichols says cow/calf producers should talk to their veterinarians about incorporating an intranasal vaccine into their branding or weaning vaccination programs because they can be best utilized when calves are turned out or before they're stressed.
For Kesterson, previous experience with intranasal vaccines made the switch a simple decision.
A perfect example of these results happened with one of Kesterson's client's spring calf crop.
"In one instance, we saw positive results with some suckling calves following branding-time vaccination," he explains. "These calves historically had issues with respiratory disease despite other vaccination programs."
While adding an intranasal vaccine to a respiratory vaccination program can be beneficial in many situations, Kesterson says it's important for producers to talk with their veterinarians to develop vaccination programs that fit each operation's needs and goals.
"As veterinarians, we have base knowledge and access to information that can be used to complement the knowledge and skills that producers possess to allow the most favorable outcome," Kesterson says. "We strive to recommend practices that are scientifically sound and tailored to each producer to help them achieve their goals. And we use the best science available to help match our product selection to each producer's operation."