Spring vaccination reminder

The Hunter Local Land Services District Vet team are reminding local producers the change of season brings with it several cattle disease risks that can be prevented through timely vaccination.

Landholders are reminded that timely assessment and decision making on the health and welfare of their animals is important for meeting their animal welfare obligations.

Spring is the ideal time to assess what vaccinations your stock will need to protect them against pulpy kidney bacteria causing death in ruminants due to changes in pasture quality during Spring and also Bovine Ephemeral Fever Virus (BEF) in cattle.

Pulpy Kidney

Pulpy Kidney is a clostridial bacteria which causes sudden death in ruminants and all cattle sheep and goats should be provided with vaccination protection against this disease. The Spring flush of new growth is a particularly risky time for livestock as the change in diet can allow clostridial bacteria to flourish in their intestine.  The bacteria produce a toxin which overwhelms their system and causes sudden death from Pulpy Kidney says Dr Lyndell Stone

A five-in one-vaccine costs less than a one dollar per animal and is a cheap insurance policy against stock losses. Pulpy kidney frequently causes death at this time of the year in all ages and types of cattle; calves, yearlings, heifers, steer, cows and Bulls are all at risk unless vaccinated. Every time cattle move onto different feed whether it be a change of season, introducing supplementary feeding, change of property or you buy in cattle you are advised to ensure your stock have received a booster in the three months prior to the change in feed. All calves should be vaccinated with two injections 4-6 weeks apart when they are 8 weeks old and stock boosted regularly from there on.

Three Day Sickness

Three Day Sickness caused by the Bovine Ephemeral Fever virus is the other key cattle vaccination to consider in Spring. Disease surveillance data shows that the virus did not circulate in NSW last summer. This means that any stock born in this region after April/May 2020 will not have protective antibody unless vaccinated this Spring say Dr Lyndell Stone

The high fever and inflammation caused by the virus can cause abortions in pregnant cattle and recumbancy, particularly in heavier stock, finished cattle or bulls. The virus can make cattle very sick if they have not been previously infected or vaccinated and if infected they will require paddock nursing. This can be an onerous task that can be prevented with vaccination say Dr Stone

Initial vaccination requires two injections from two weeks to six months apart. It is recommended to provide the initial primer dose in late winter/Spring (August - September) and the second vaccination in early summer (Nov-Dec). The benefit of this approach is that if the BEF season looks like it will arrive early then the second vaccine or annual booster can be quickly administered and within 7-10 days cattle should have solid immunity. Annual boosters should ideally be given 8-10 weeks before virus transmission. The virus frequently arrives in the region in mid to late summer as Mosquitos make their way down the coast carrying the virus, but can sometime catch us by surprise arriving early. Thus best to speak with your private vet early to secure supply.


While not linked to vaccinations, following recent rain in parts of our region, livestock producers are urged to be on the lookout for signs of bloat.

Bloat is a risk when cattle are grazing young, lush pasture, particularly with high legume content, such as clover, medics or lucerne. Severe bloat very rarely affects sheep or other livestock species.

Early signs include an obvious swelling of the upper left flank, but the condition can sometimes be difficult to spot and may progress to sudden death.

If you suspect your livestock could be suffering from bloat or any unexplained sudden death, contact your local vet.

For more information on the symptoms, treatment options and prevention methods, click here https://www.dpi.nsw.gov.au/animals-and-livestock/sheep/health/other/bloat

Our District Vets are still working during this time and can assist you with your enquiries. We encourage you to use our contactless services to get in touch and stay connected during this period visit https://www.lls.nsw.gov.au/covid-19 or call our team on 1300 795 299.

Related news

Related information