Section 1 | Preconditioning Beef Calves

Ontario Beef Industry
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Vaccines and Protocols for Beef Cattle

Vaccines in Beef: So many choices!

When it comes to choosing what vaccines to use in your beef herd, there is no shortage of products to choose from. Specific decisions on vaccines, along with administration schedules and protocols, should be made in close consultation with your herd veterinarian. The following section highlights some important disease conditions that negatively affect herd health, along with vaccine options to protect your herd.


Modified-Live versus Killed Vaccines: What’s the difference?

Put simply, all modified-live vaccines (MLV) contain viruses that are “alive” and able to divide in the body of the animal when injected. They have been modified so that, while they can divide, they are unable to cause disease. Because they can divide, they do not need helper chemicals (called adjuvants) to stimulate the immune system. Their growth mimics a real infection without the disease.

Killed vaccines are just that — they contain viruses and bacteria that are “dead” — no longer able to divide when injected into the animal. They need to contain chemical adjuvants to stimulate the immune system.


Comparison of MLV versus Killed Vaccines:

MLV vaccines Killed vaccines
Stimulate all arms of immunity Stimulate only one arm of the immune system
Longer lasting immunity Short lived immunity — require frequent booster injections
Protect against a broader range of varieties of a given pathogen Can be specific to a certain pathogen variety
Often do not need multiple doses Need a primary and booster dose
Less sensitive to blocking from colostrum-derived immunity in calves Sensitive to blocking from colostrum-derived immunity in calves
Less likely to cause severe allergic reactions More likely to cause severe allergic reactions
Can cause abortion in pregnant animals that have not been properly primed Do not cause abortion

Important Infectious Diseases in Beef Production

Below is a table summarizing the infectious diseases in beef production. This list includes diseases against which there are licensed vaccines commercially available in Canada.

Disease Description Examples of Vaccines Available
Respiratory and Reproductive Viral
Bovine viral diarrhea (BVD) Abortions
Immune suppression
Viral pneumonia
Severe diarrhea
Triangle® 10
Cattlemaster Gold FP5®
Master Guard® 10Modified-live:
Bovishield® Gold FP®5
Express® FP10
Pyramid® FP 10
Titanium® 5
Vision® 5
Inforce™ 3 (no BVD) – Intranasal
Infectious bovine rhinotracheitis (IBR) Abortions
Immune suppression
Viral respiratory disease
Bovine respiratory syncitial virus (BRSV) Viral pneumonia
Parainfluenza virus (PI3) Viral respiratory disease
Respiratory Bacterial Vaccines Pasteurella multocida

Mannheimia haemolytica

Bacterial pneumonia Modified-live:
Bovishield Gold One Shot®
Pyramid® FP 5 + Presponse®
Titanium® 5 PH+M
Vista® Once SQ
Once PMH® IN – intranasal
Leptosporidiosis Reproductive Vaccines Leptosporidiosis Septicemia
Triangle® 10
Cattlemaster Gold FP5® + L5
Master Guard® 10Modified-live:
Bovishield Gold® FP®5 L5 HB
Express® FP10
Pyramid® FP 10
Titanium® 5 L5 HB
Vista® 5 VL5 SQ
Clostridial Bacterial Vaccines Blackleg and malignant edema (Clostridium spp.) Bacterial infection of muscle and subcutaneous tissue, often causing death Covexin® Plus

Fermicon 7/Somnugen

Tasvax® 8

Ultrachoice® 8

Vision® 8 with Spur

Tetanus Infection with Clostridium tetani causing tetanus (lockjaw) Covexin® Plus

Tasvax® 8

Calf Scour Prevention Vaccines Calf scours Infection with E.coli, Clostridium perfringens, rotavirus, and coronavirus ScourGuard® 4KC

Scour Bos® 9


Bovilis® (intranasal for coronavirus only)

Histophilus somnus Prevention Infectious thromboembolic meningoencepthalitis (ITEME) Infection with the bacteria Histophilus somni Ultrabac® 7/Somnubac®

Fermicon 7/Somnugen®

Express® FP 5/Somnugen®

Vira Shield® 6 + Somnus

Vision® 8 Somnus with Spur®

Salmonella prevention Salmonellosis Infection with the bacteria Salmonella typhimurium Endovac-Beef® with ImmunePlus

Vaccines are tools to help protect your herd. While the list does not outline the complete line of products, it can still feel overwhelming. That is why it is necessary to work with your veterinarian to assess which product will fits best with your herd.

For more information on developing a veterinarian-client-patient-relationship or VCPR with a clinic in your area, read our case study: VCPR and Beef Production in Ontario

What Does a Herd Vaccination Protocol Look Like?

The following protocols are examples of what a whole-herd vaccination protocol would look like. They are centered on using MLV vaccines. They do not constitute or replace the necessary input that your herd veterinarian will have. Your veterinarian understands your herd and can tailor a vaccination protocol for the specific challenges faced by your animals.

So, now’s the time to get the conversation rolling about how best to protect your herd from disease! Work with your veterinarian to develop standard operating procedures that suit your practices.



Replacement Heifers:

The Herd:

Incoming Feedlot Calves: