Do Newborn Calves Need Any Vaccinations?
Vaccinating newborn calves is an important part of providing sound animal care. Vaccines boost calves’ immunity to dangerous diseases and protect them from potential illness and death. While vaccines are an excellent tool for protecting calf health, it’s important to understand when and how to use them properly.
When to Give Newborn Calves Vaccinations
The timing of the vaccination your calf receives will depend on the disease it is meant to prevent and what type of vaccination is being used.
- Maternal antibodies: If the vaccine is a killed or modified live virus vaccine, and the calf receives antibodies from its mother, then it is important to not vaccinate the calf until the antibodies passed through the colostrum are substantially reduced (usually around 8-10 weeks). Giving a newborn calf a killed or modified live virus vaccine when it has high levels of maternal antibodies can result in the calf not getting the full benefit of the vaccine.
- Bacterial infection vaccines: When these are given as a single dose, they are usually given shortly after birth. There may also be an option for administering boosters throughout the first year.
Types of Vaccines Available for Newborn Calves
- Clostridial Diseases: Clostridial diseases cover a range of illnesses, including tetanus and blackleg. Clostridial diseases can be prevented with a generic clostridial vaccine.
- Respiratory Diseases: A vaccine containing immunity against viruses like bovine respiratory syncytial virus (BRSV) and bovine viral diarrhea (BVD) can also be administered.
- Scours: A vaccine containing immunity against rotavirus and coronavirus can be used as a preventative measure against scours.
When choosing the right vaccine for your calf, it’s important to talk to your veterinarian who can recommend the best option for your individual situation.
As with all agricultural practices, there is no one-size-fits-all answer to vaccinating newborn calves. However, by understanding when and what types of vaccines are available, you can ensure that your calf is given the best protection possible.