There are many infectious diseases that can affect cattle & sheep in New Zealand. The great news is that there are excellent vaccines to prevent many of these diseases. Vaccination is an important part of your preventative medicine program for both animal & human health eg. leptospirosis, which can make people very ill.
Some of the most common conditions we recommend vaccination for:
Clostridial disease eg. Tetanus, pulpy kidney. These are environmental organisms can cause both death & wastage in sheep, beef & dairy cattle. The cost to vaccinate is very low & the vaccines provide very good protection. It is ideal to vaccinate around one month prior to lambing / calving to allow protection to be provided to the newborn animals in the colostrum.
Leptospirosis: This bacterial infection is important, because although it can cause disease in cattle, it is a zoonosis and can cause serious disease in people. Milkers and freezing workers are particularly at risk because it is spread in urine and handling kidneys at slaughter.
BVD (Bovine Viral Diarrhoea) – This is a very infectious viral disease mainly seen in cattle, but can also effect sheep. The symptoms can range from reproductive losses eg. abortions, through to diarrhoea in calves & illthrift. BVD can cause significant economic & production losses in a herd situation & is the most significant viral disease to effect beef cattle in NZ. Control of BVD involves a combination of testing, biosecurity and vaccination.
Rotavirus: The Rotavec Vaccine can be used in pregnant cows pre-calving to provide colostral protection to newborn calves against this severe & deadly viral infection that causes calves to scour. It is highly contagious & can cause massive losses on effected farms in young calves.
There are many other vaccines available for sheep & cattle that have not been discussed in this article. Please consult with your vet to make a preventative health plan that is suited to your farm.
Kate Heller BVSc