Vaccination of cattle is an important part of keeping a herd healthy and productive. There are a number of core vaccines for both beef and dairy cattle.

Cows and bulls:

⁃infectious bovine rhinotracheitis, bovine viral diarrhea, parinfluenza, and bovine respiratory syncytial virus – available in a variety of forms depending on the gestation status and presence of a nursing calf
⁃Clostridium combination vaccine (7 or 8 way blackleg) – blackleg is rare in adult cattle but it can cause fatal disease and the vaccine can provide calves with antibodies via colostrum
⁃leptospirosis and campylobacter (vibriosis)
⁃pink eye as needed – MANY strains of this bacteria exist and a vaccine can be made for the specific strains on a farm
⁃J-5 in dairy cows only


⁃infectious bovine rhinotracheitis, bovine viral diarrhea, parinfluenza, and bovine respiratory syncytial virus – also comes in combination with respiratory bacteria; replacement heifers can receive a modified live virus (MLV) that allows them to receive subsequent MLV vaccines regardless of gestation status
⁃Clostridium combination vaccine (7 or 8 way blackleg) – available with tetanus which is a good idea for bull calves that will be castrated
⁃Brucellosis is optional and for heifers only– also called OCV or bangs – must be done in heifers 4-12 months of age
⁃pink eye as needed
⁃rotavirus, coronavirus, and E. coli to try to prevent scours – more common in dairy calves

Regular deworming and external parasite control is important in keeping cattle in good health. There are a variety of administration routes available including oral, injection, and pour on.

Sheep and Goats

A big concern with small ruminants is intestinal parasite resistance. Overuse of deworming products have led to intestinal parasites becoming resistant to many of the existing deworming products available. A severe parasite infestation can easily lead to the death of a sheep or goat with the young and old being most susceptible. The current recommendation is to perform regular fecal examinations to get an egg count and ensure deworming even needs to be done. It is also recommended to use the same deworming product until it fails to work then switch to a different class of dewormer.

Sheep and goats need a yearly CD-T vaccine to prevent a trio of clostridial diseases including tetanus. Rabies can also be given to both species although it is off label in goats.

Bladder stones can be a problem in males of both species but is more common in wethers – especially goats. Excessive calcium intake coupled with decreased water consumption can lead to the formation bladder stones that can block the urethra. Animals castrated at a young age may be at an increased risk as their urethra may be narrower than if castrated when he is older. If the stone cannot be passed or removed, the animal will need surgery to regain the ability to urinate and save his life. This surgery will render him unable to be used as a breeding animal.

Many pet goat owners do not want horns due to the possible danger of injury to humans and other goats. Disbudding is a procedure that uses heat to kill the cells that grow into horns and is best done on a young animal that is a few weeks to a couple of months of age. Any horn removal done after this age will be considered a surgical procedure necessitating anesthesia. The horn buds of goats, especially males, can be difficult to prevent from regrowing. There is a fine line between achieving the heat needed to prevent horn growth and damaging the brain of a goat due to the thin skull in the horn area.

There are numerous diseases that sheep and goats can be tested for to keep the flock or herd as safe as possible. Both species can contract Johne’s and caseous lymphadenitis (CL). Johne’s causes diarrhea while CL can lead to abscessation of lymph nodes mainly in the head/neck. Ovine progressive pneumonia (OPP), specific to sheep, can cause respiratory problems and weight loss. Caprine arthritis encephalitis (CAE), is specific to goats, can cause neurologic signs and pneumonia in kids and arthritis in adults. These viruses are certainly spread through the colostrum but transmission through contact may be possible as well.