Ask the Vet

Clostridial Vaccination Timing

Most calves will get clostridial immunity from their dams until 3 or 4 months of age. (DTN/Progressive Farmer photo by Becky Mills)


In a past issue of the Progressive Farmer, you wrote in your column about vaccinating cattle at birth versus later in life. From what I understand, the blackleg vaccination should be given around 4-months-of-age. If I administer this at birth will I have a better outcome or is there no difference?


Let me expand on this a little. Most calves from properly vaccinated dams have good maternal immunity to clostridial diseases, with blackleg being the most significant for animals at 3 to 4 months of age.

In an ideal world, with controlled calving seasons, calves should be vaccinated around that 4-month time period with a clostridial vaccine, as well as for infectious bovine rhinotracheitis (IBR), bovine viral diarrhea (BVD), parainfluenza virus (PI3) and bovine respiratory syncytial virus (BRSV). They also should be given boosters prior to weaning. If you cannot prior to weaning, and you have your hands on that newborn calf, there is nothing wrong with a properly administered clostridial vaccine. At worst, the calf won't respond, but some may.