Vaccinating against MASTITIS today – How should you START VACcinating ?

Following on from news recently released  that 1.2million doses of The First Mastitis vaccine to be registered for Ireland and Europe,  has now been  sold  to farmers though out Europe ,who have decided  to START VACcinating TO PREVENT  Mastitis since last December  2009, it is now apparent that the concept of prevention rather than treatment of mastitis  is beginning  to take  root. Since the vaccine against bovine mastitis is now commercially available in Ireland   it is worth reviewing the administration protocols  that  farmers who are beginning to START VACcinating  against mastitis  are adopting  when   administering  the  vaccine to  their  herds.

In Ireland, where Staph Aureous is the most prevalent strain of mastitis according to the National Veterinary laboratories , followed by E-Coli,   herd vaccination  is being applied using one of two administration protocols.  THE  VACCINE  works by inducing a high level of antibodies within the vaccinated animal which then helps the animal suppress and fight  any mastitic challenge it may encounter around the calving period and through  lactation . Vaccinating will allow the animal   achieve a high level  of immunity  around the calving  period  when the animal is under a higher level of stress than normal  and the animals immunity is  low  (and very  susceptible to challenges presented by Staph Aureus and E- Coli.). To achieve maximum  benefit  from vaccinating then , the Classic Protocol needs to be applied . To adopt this protocol it is important that the farmer is aware of the potential  dates of calving within his herd  as the vaccine must be administered  prior to  calving  (twice) and following the calving (once) to bolster  this period of low immunity in the animal . By adopting this strategy , farmers are getting  to maximise the potential benefit of the immunity afforded by  vaccination at a crucial period for the dairy cow.  On the farms which conducted the trials for product registration and on the farms in Ireland where further  studies are being carried out, the farmers successfully vaccinated the cows  in groups /batches  which cut down on the labour involved and made the administration  more efficient and less  labour intensive. The first dose was applied between 38 and 52 days before calving. The second dose was applied 10-17 days  prior to calving.  A minimum period of 21 days must separate  application of the 1st and 2nd dose . Then  following calving the third dose is  administered between 45 and 59 days ensuring that the immunity remains high as the animal enters mid lactation.  The injections were administered intramuscularly  either side of the neck.(they  can also be given into the gluteal muscle) The full immunisation scheme induces immunity in the vaccinated animal  from approximately day 13 after the first injection until approximately day 78 after the third injection (equivalent to 130 days post calving).

Where Irish farm management in the past has shown no particular requirement for  recording anticipated calving dates for vaccination purposes, Irish farmers without this information  have questioned how they could use vaccination as a tool in the reduction and prevention of mastitis to complement their particular  herd health plan while still being in receipt of the benefits and advantages arising from its use. An Alternate Protocol was  designed specifically to deal with farms where records were not specific enough to allow use of the three dose protocol. The Alternate Protocol  involves  giving 4 injections and seeks to provide a general high level of immunity across the herd and through calving , continuing on throughout  the lactation period. Allowing for calving to begin around the end of January  i.e. 31st , the vaccinations are  administered as follows…the first injection is given between the 27th December / 1st of January followed by the second injection at a minimum of 3 weeks later,  administered  between the 14th /21st January. Following the completion of the calving period (approx Mid  April)  the 3rd injection is then administered  21st of May /1st of June.  A fourth injection is then administered towards the end of September (21st -30th ) . Despite the extra cost involved in giving an extra injection , farmers who adopted this vaccination protocol are finding  it easier to implement as all the animals are vaccinated at once ( blanket vaccination) and there was no requirement to separate the herd into batches. In year two, following the recording of the  anticipated  calving dates in the herd ,it is anticipated  that farmers on the 4 dose Alternate Protocol will resort back to the 3 dose Classic Protocol.

It is important to note that mastitis is a multi-factorial disease , and vaccination  has to be considered as just one component in a complex mastitis control program; All farmers intent on including  vaccination in their overall strategy to reduce Mastitis caused by Staph Aureus and E-Coli on  their farm should  understand that it is not a stand alone solution and must only  be used while simultaneously  addressing all the  important udder health factors i.e. milking technique, dry-off and breeding management, hygiene, nutrition, bedding, cow comfort, air and water quality, health monitoring .For further information relating to the vaccine, please contact Duggan Veterinary @ (0504) 43169  or contact your local veterinary surgeon

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