Always include the bull when vaccinating breeding animals, Animal Heath Ireland (AHI) says.

The bull has contact with all breeding females in your herd, therefore he has to be kept free of disease; he is ideally placed to spread infection or illness throughout the herd, the Department of Agriculture says.

It says that in order to physically serve cows, the bull has to be kept fit and well. Infection or illness could reduce his ability to do so.

Vaccines should be stored appropriately, with most requiring refrigeration. Vaccines should be made up in accordance with manufacturer’s instructions, Animal Health Ireland says.

It also says it is important to pay attention to hygiene when drawing up and giving vaccines.

Follow the manufacturer’s guidelines and veterinary advice on the route of administration, size of the dose and timing of the primary vaccination and any subsequent boosters required.

When vaccinating animals, stress should be avoided, particularly during pregnancy. It is important not to perform several stressful procedures (moving pens, transportation, dehorning, etc.) at the same time.

Do not use vaccines on sick animals.

As a rule of thumb, don’t give another vaccine two weeks either side of the date of vaccination, unless manufacturer’s guidelines state otherwise.

Most vaccines are given to protect the animal that receive them, but some vaccines given during later pregnancy, e.g. scour vaccines, protect the calf through antibodies they receive through colostrum and milk.

It is important to ensure the calf receives colostrum from the vaccinated cow within two hours of birth and continues to receive milk from a vaccinated cow for the first month of life to provide ongoing protection.

Bought-in animals should be quarantined. Where possible, their vaccination status should be ascertained from the previous owner.

Animals should be vaccinated with any vaccines used on the purchaser’s farm prior to introduction to the main herd. Animals should be quarantined until two weeks after the vaccination course(s) is complete.

Non-breeding animals should be included in most vaccination programmes, both to protect themselves against the disease and to prevent circulation of the disease-causing agent in part of the herd.

It may not be necessary or viable to include them in all programmes but this should be discussed with your vet. Generally non-breeding animals should be given vaccines at the same time as the rest of the herd.

The final selection and timing of vaccines to be given in a particular herd should be done in discussion with the farmer’s veterinary practitioner.

Note that for some vaccines two doses are required to complete the primary course. All vaccination courses should be completed in advance of recognised risk periods.

Rebecca Carroll, Assistant Programme Manager, Animal Health Ireland.

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