Soon the dreariness of winter will fade away and it will be spring. Many cattle producers work their cattle in the springtime and now is the perfect time to start planning for that process. There are many decisions to be made and planning now will make the process much smoother.
The biggest part of working cattle in the spring is vaccinating the cattle. Management styles play a huge role in determining which cattle will be vaccinated and what will be used. However, there are some basic guidelines that all cattlemen can follow. Brood cows should be vaccinated for all of the following diseases: infectious bovine rhinotracheitis (IBR), bovine respiratory syncitial virus (BRSV), bovine viral diarrhea (BVD), and parainfluenza (PI3), leptospirosis, and a seven way clostridial vaccine. These diseases are important to all styles of management because all cattle can be susceptible. Many people don’t feel that it is important to vaccinate adult cattle for the clostridial diseases and indeed, it is rare for adult cattle to die of blackleg. However, the goal of vaccinating adult cattle for these types of diseases is to help provide protection to the baby calf via the colostrums that the mother cow will pass on to the baby calf during the first nursings after birth. Other vaccines to consider depending on management style and endemic challenges include: vibrio, pink eye, and scour control vaccines. Also remember that modified live vaccines provide the best and strongest immunity. However, there are restrictions on how they can be used in pregnant cattle. Always consult the label if there are any questions on using a modified live vaccine in adult cattle. It is also important to remember to vaccinate bulls as well as the cows. Vaccination of young calves will depend on the future plans for those calves but at a minimum, a seven way clostridial vaccine should be given.
A couple of other things should be done at spring workings. All cattle should be dewormed. While there are many types and routes of administration for dewormers, it is important to read and follow the label of whatever type of dewormer is chosen. A final consideration is fly control. It is a good idea to put fly tags in cattle in the spring. While the timing can sometimes be tricky, it is a very important part of a fully integrated fly control strategy. Since fly tags only have a limited lifespan, consideration should be given as to when to put them into cattle. Putting them into cattle in the early spring when flies are not prevalent doesn’t make good sense.
Some cattle producers may also include some management procedures at the spring working like castration and dehorning. It is a good time to consider these as flies are generally not as bad in the spring and will be less likely to cause complications.
Good luck with spring cattle working and please feel free to ask your local Stockdale's animal health specialist with any questions about cattle working products.