Item 3 of 6
In Progress


Dan Hickey April 22, 2020
Heard Health & Welfare

Determine the risk and vaccinate to prevent specific diseases

Guidelines for implementing a vaccination program

Vaccination is effective in preventing some common cattle diseases. Base the decision to vaccinate on whether the potential loss is more than the cost of a vaccination program, or if the disease poses a human health risk.

Identify the diseases that can infect cattle (and people) and can be vaccinated against in your beef enterprise. These include:

  • clostridial diseases
  • vibriosis
  • trichomoniasis
  • leptospirosis
  • mucosal disease
  • pinkeye.

Seek local advice from your veterinarian or state department of primary industry or agriculture. A table to help determine the presence of diseases treatable by vaccination is presented in Tool 6.7.

Vaccinate against specific diseases if it is cost-effective or a human health risk

If your enterprise is at risk of disease, determine whether a vaccination program will be cost-effective. Use MLA’s Health Cost Benefit Calculator (Tool 6.1) to calculate the cost-effectiveness of treatments for bloat, grass tetany and clostridial diseases etc. Tool 6.2 lists vaccines available for common cattle diseases and strategies for different classes of cattle. If you do have to vaccinate, treatment timing is important.

Zoonotic diseases (affect both cattle and humans) are listed in Tool 6.3. They include:

  • leptospirosis
  • Q-fever
  • campylobacteriosis
  • milkers nodule
  • brucellosis
  • tuberculosis
  • cryptosporidiosis
  • yersiniosis
  • salmonella
  • listeriosis
  • ringworm
  • anthrax.

Assess the risk of cattle diseases infecting people

It is critical that a thorough risk assessment is conducted on the likelihood of you, or anyone that may come into contact with your animals, contracting one of these zoonotic diseases. If there is any risk at all, a vaccination program should be implemented or a management system put in place that is guaranteed to prevent transmission of the disease.

What to measure and when

If you have not already done so, assess the current disease risk status of your beef enterprise, then reassess whenever conditions that affect the disease occur, or the enterprise changes to include new or different classes of stock.

Monitor the following factors regularly:

  • conditions likely to lead to the development of common cattle diseases (see Tool 6.7)
  • presence of signs of disease that can be prevented by vaccination (see Tool 6.2)
  • potential loss compared to the cost of a vaccination program (see Tool 6.1)
  • recent cattle prices, to determine the cost-effectiveness of vaccination.

Note: The timing of the vaccination for different classes of cattle is important (see Tool 6.2).

Regularly assess the disease status of your herd

Further information

  • Information on common diseases that can be prevented by vaccination is available on all state departments of primary industries and agriculture websites (see Tool 6.6).
  • Information on common disease and disorders is available on the MLA website.