New calf vaccine able to help protect very young calves


CALF pneumonia or bovine respiratory disease (BRD) is one of the most costly diseases to the cattle industry, through disease and on-going costs associated with loss of production.

Prevention is always better than cure and, fortunately, in the case of BRD, vaccination can be used as part of a control plan. We are all very aware of the growing concern around antimicrobial resistance (AMR) and the need to reduce the amount of antibiotics used in food producing animals.

In some European countries targets to reduce antimicrobial usage have been linked directly with an increase in the use of vaccination to target BRD in young stock.

What is a vaccine?

When we mention vaccination we most probably think of an injection. However, in the case of pneumonia, the viruses arrive through the mucous membranes of the mouth and nose.

So, wouldn’t it be a good idea to use a vaccine which best mimics the virus to provide immunity? These types of vaccines are called mucosal vaccines and can be given intranasally.

Studies have shown that this route of administration provides a very fast-acting local response which acts as a barrier to entry to any invading pathogens.

Giving a live vaccine by the mucosal route stimulates a broad and fast-acting immune response to effectively block the harmful wild type viruses.

Calves up until about three months of age possess antibodies from their dam’s colostrum – MDA (maternally derived antibodies). MDA will provide a certain level of protection for the calf, whose own immune system isn’t fully up and running just yet.

However, the downside is that these colostral antibodies can interfere with vaccines given by injection systemically (under the skin or into the muscle).

Mucosal vaccines are less affected by MDA which means they can be used at a very young age and help protect the calf during that vulnerable initial three-month period.

Boehringer Ingelheim has just launched Bovalto Respi Intranasal, an intranasal vaccine for calves which protects against the two main respiratory viruses – RSV and PI3. This is delivered as a single dose, from 10 days of age, and provides immunity for 12 weeks, from 10 days after vaccination.

In order to assist with administration, a dedicated starter pack, which includes a high quality vaccinator, a set of nozzles that deliver the vaccine at the optimal droplet size and a soft Bovalto Respisafe applicator, which fits against the calf’s nostril, has been developed. The aim is to make sure that vaccination is a comfortable process for both the farmer and calf.

Vaccination is an effective part of any BRD control programme and targeting early protection with an intranasal vaccine will help cut losses and help to produce healthy calves without resorting to antibiotics.


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