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Proper Vaccine Handling and Storage

Preventive health is one of the most important elements of maintaining a healthy, productive herd of cattle. It is much more effective to prevent illness than to treat it. While no vaccine can compensate for poor management, proper vaccination of healthy cattle can minimize the effects of disease in your herd and maximize growth, fertility, and production.

While the majority of my clients have a regular herd vaccine protocol in place, often in conjunction with herd health visits, it is too common to see improper handling of vaccines. Improper storage and handling can reduce vaccine efficacy to zero. Depending on the intensity of the herd health protocol, farms are spending between $3 and $20 per head per year on vaccines. If improperly administered, this money is thrown away. The far greater cost is disease, infertility, and decreased production. Consider these common mistakes and see how you can easily improve vaccine efficacy on your farm.

  1. Fridge temperature: Most vaccines should be stored between 35° and 45°F. Freezing will inactivate live vaccines. Warm storage will also inactivate vaccines. A fridge thermometer costs less then $5 – make sure your fridge is operating properly!

  2. Live vaccines must be used within one hour of mixing and should be protected from light, heat, and freezing.

  3. If using multi‐dose syringes, clean after every use with hot (212°F) distilled water. Do not use soap or disinfectant – these products will inactive vaccines.

  4. Do not use dirty needles on vaccines that will be stored for future use. Dirt, body fluids and bacteria introduced into the bottle will inactivate the vaccine. This is one of the most common mistakes we see on dairy farms.

  5. Follow label instructions and please ask if you have any questions!

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