Naracoorte's Andy Withers urged farmers to consider bovine vaccine to protect industry

VACCINE: Naracoorte Cattle farmer Andy Withers is encouraging others to vaccinate against BRD. PHOTO: FILE
VACCINE: Naracoorte Cattle farmer Andy Withers is encouraging others to vaccinate against BRD. PHOTO: FILE

As locals rush to get the COVID jab, a Naracoorte farmer is urging local cattle farmers to think of their stock, and get them vaccinated against Bovine Respiratory Disease.

The disease, which affects cattle of all ages, is the leading cause of mortality within the cattle industry and cattle farmer Andy Withers encouraged farmers to give their cattle the jab to help protect the industry.

"Any vaccine like this that is proven and protects the industry, and all the stakeholders of the industry like producers, the buyers and the feedlotters - they pay a lot of money for those steers these days - is good,' he said

"Any loss is a dead loss - any loss is a disaster and if you get a wave of this through or a weather event like we are having right now that propagates it, it becomes quite serious.

"It's cruel on the animals and it's cruel on the pocket - you can't afford losses.

"Anything we can do to improve all the stakeholders in the industry's interests, I think is a really good thing."

Now is the time for farmers to consider vaccination, with Australias largest cattle feedlot and processing group JBS Australia announcing that its three NSW feedlots will only accept cattle that have been vaccinated to help control the effects of Bovine Respiratory Disease, commencing September 1.

Northern Livestock Manager at JBS Australia, Scott Carswell, says the critical point of BRD prevention in cattle happens on farm, prior to feedlot induction, making BRD pre-vaccination the last piece of the puzzle in terms of striving for the highest animal welfare standards.

"The risk of BRD is at its peak in the first couple of weeks at the feedlot and the critical point of prevention happens on-farm prior to feedlot induction. Vaccinating prior to feedlot entry with Bovilis MH+IBR has two main benefits - firstly, when cattle are pre-vaccinated in an unstressed environment, they are expected to develop a better response to the vaccine, and secondly, and most importantly, pre-vaccinated cattle have a higher level of protection at the time of maximum risk, which is immediately following feedlot induction.

That's why we are making it mandatory from 1st September 2021 that all cattle who enter our feedlots in Caroona, Prime City and Riverina have at least one shot of Bovilis MH+IBR from 180 days to 14 days prior to delivery."

For Mr Withers, who has been routinely vaccinating his cattle for years, it's makes good economic sense.

"There is a lot of it and it's been around a long, long time - we bought a bull back in 1974 and he had a titer for IBR and was infertile for quite a while and it was put down to that," he said.

"We have had other cattle come up with a titer, because we have tested quite a lot of cattle for it over the years, and any animal with an IBR level is not eligible for the EU and in Canada they can only go in after an antibiotic and a period of rest.

"There is a financial incentive, and has been for a long time, where JBS gives you $15 for one vaccination or $25 extra per head for the full two shots- it's like COVID, they need 2 shots to be fully covered - and I believe Teys have an incentive as well.

"Cattle, once they have had it, they carry a titer that shows they've had it for a long period of time and these buyers that buy a lot of cattle keep extremely good records, and if there is a herd that has a problem to them, they will steer clear of it.

"At the moment it is a very vibrant industry, we're getting well paid for our cattle, so we want to protect those that buy them and take them on further.

"It's our duty to do this."

The Bovilis MH + IBR vaccine can be purchased from Castec Rural Supplies Naracoorte and Lucindale.