Administering a vaccine to your animals will cost you money. But not vaccinating them will cost you much more.
Unfortunately, even communal farmers who know the importance of vaccines often consider it too expensive to vaccinate all of their animals.
“Vaccines are like a training course for the immune system,” explains the website Livescience.com.
They introduce weakened germs into the body, forcing the immune system to create antibodies that protect the body from future infection.
All adult livestock should be vaccinated at least once a year, and ideally they should receive a booster vaccination four weeks later to strengthen the immune system even further.
Cows will pass immunity on to their offspring via their milk; this immunity lasts for six to eight weeks.
Vaccinating: the most important points
Vaccinate calves at eight to 12 weeks, with a booster at weaning (about eight months of age).
If you can, avoid dosing calves with a worm remedy before they have had their first vaccination; rather administer the worm remedy two weeks later.
Keep records of your vaccinations and set yourself a reminder for booster vaccinations.
Keep vaccines refrigerated and out of direct sunlight. Never use vaccines that have expired (the expiry date is usually printed on the packaging).
Ideal for communal areas
Many communal farming areas lack boundary fences, enabling roaming animals of unknown health status to spread disease. It’s therefore important to use a multi-action vaccine rather than one that treats only a single livestock disease.
Different brands of multi-action vaccines cover the seven most prevalent livestock diseases; ask about these at your local co-op or livestock medicine dealer.
Bear in mind, though, that diseases such as bluetongue and Rift Valley fever, which can be fatal to livestock, are usually not covered by multi-action vaccines.
If these diseases are prevalent in your region, ask for advice on how to vaccinate your animals against them, as some of these diseases may be dangerous to humans.
Make sure you understand what to do; ask if you’re unsure
Always read the administration instructions very carefully. If you’re unable to understand them, ask for advice when buying vaccines.
Never reuse syringes or needles after having administered vaccines or any other medication to visibly sick or weak animals. Sterilise them in boiling water for at least 15 minutes, or use disposable syringes and needles.
Do not stop using medications or dips intended to control parasites while vaccinating your animals.
Sources: Pappas, S. (2010). ‘How do vaccines work?’ Retrieved from www.livescience.com; ‘How vaccines work’. (2018). Retrieved from vaccineinformation.org.