Immune management and vaccination of the preweaning beef calf


  • Amelia Woolums Department of Pathobiology and Population Medicine, Mississippi State University Mississippi State, MS 39762


colostrum, antibody, respiratory disease


Ensuring health of preweaning calves requires attention to colostrum intake and nutrition of the dam and calf, and tar­geted use of vaccination. Colostrum intake that leads to opti­mal, and not just adequate, passive immunity can improve calf health. The neonatal calf has a functional immune response, and calves can respond to vaccination in the first week of life. Maternal antibodies do not always suppress response to vac­cination, but intranasal routes of vaccination may more effec­tively prime immunity in the first month or two of life, when maternal antibodies are at the highest concentration. Either intranasal or parenteral vaccines can be effective to prime immunity in calves at 90 to 120 days of age. In calves, booster doses are particularly important to ensure immunity, as not all calves will be prepared to respond optimally at the time of their first vaccination. Field trials indicate that preweaning vaccina­tion can sometimes improve health postweaning, but few field trials have evaluated the effects of preweaning vaccination on preweaning disease. Challenge studies and research measur­ing immune function provide support for vaccination to pre­vent preweaning disease, but the evidence quality is not strong. More field trials testing vaccination of preweaning calves to prevent preweaning disease are needed.






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