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Setting Up Cows for Success at Preg-Check

Setting Up Cows for Success at Preg-Check                                                                                                                                                                          
By Chris Thomsen, D.V.M., beef technical services, Merck Animal Health

Pregnancy-check season is a time to identify and sell open cows. It’s also important to take steps to ensure pregnant cows deliver calves that are as healthy and strong as possible to help them thrive in the face of normal neonatal challenges. Aside from determining pregnancy and estimating calving dates, this is a good opportunity to physically examine cows and cover any vaccination and parasite control needs.

Determine vaccination needs for the cow

If the cow herd was not vaccinated in the spring before breeding, now is the time to give the annual respiratory and reproductive vaccine boosters. A killed or modified-live vaccine, labeled as safe for pregnant cows, can be used. MLV vaccines should only be used if a cow has been vaccinated within the past 12 months with the same vaccine. Vaccines providing protection against Bovine Viral Diarrhea (BVD), Infectious Bovine Rhinotracheitis (IBR), vibriosis and leptospirosis are essential.

Prepare for passive protection

Vaccinating cows prior to calving also will stimulate antibody production that will result in higher-quality colostrum, ultimately giving calves better protection when they’re born. For example, you can administer a scours vaccine five to seven weeks prior to calving to boost antibody levels in the cow’s colostrum so the newborn calf will have increased protection from scours. 

Implement internal and external parasite control

The results of many studies have shown that when parasites are effectively eliminated, the cow will utilize feed more efficiently, milk better and produce a heavier calf. Because of the developing parasite resistance to avermectin products, the most effective strategy to control internal parasites involves concurrent deworming. This process utilizes two dewormers from different classes given at the same time. An example of this strategy includes using fenbendazole, the active ingredient in Safe-Guard®, along with an avermectin pour-on. This combination has demonstrated a near 100 percent internal parasite kill.1

            Consult with your veterinarian to develop a preg-check program that will help keep your cows healthy and productive, giving them the best opportunity for a successful calving season.