Make reproductive health top priority this spring

Farm Forum

The spring calf crop is a natural focus for beef producers this time of year, but the most important thing a producer can do to maintain productivity and help improve profitability potential is to keep reproductive health of the cow herd top of mind.

“Reproduction is the top performance tool that producers can use to impact their bottom line,” explained Richard Linhart, DVM, DACT, managing veterinarian for Zoetis. “Cow/calf producers can impact their herd’s reproductive success fairly easily through proper management, good nutrition and by making sound animal health decisions”

Reproductive diseases are difficult, and sometimes impossible, to visibly diagnose since they rarely cause clinical symptoms. However, no producer wants to learn of the problem with a late-term abortion, by not having cows calving when we expect or potentially not calving at all next season.

“Diseases such as bovine viral diarrhea (BVD), infectious bovine rhinotracheitis (IBR), vibriosis or leptospirosis may be to blame, and are best diagnosed by a veterinarian,” Dr. Linhart continued. “The losses from reproductive disease can be devastating to producers.”

In fact, a study showed that when all reproductive diseases and conditions are considered — including infertility, abortions or stillbirths, dystocia, retained placentas, and metritis or pyometra — cow/calf producers can see an annual loss of $13.10 to $14.90 per cow.1 And that doesn’t factor in reduced efficiencies and losses from unvaccinated animals.

“Developing and updating a reproductive vaccination program that helps ensure a productive and efficient cow herd can be a seamless process when utilizing the technical expertise of a veterinarian.” Dr. Linhart said. “Veterinarians can be a great asset in helping producers understand current disease challenges in certain geographies and how to help prevent those diseases.”

Achieving optimal reproductive health for your cows doesn’t stop with implementing a comprehensive vaccination program. With their reproductive health at risk, Dr. Linhart encourages producers to:

• Take a hard look at day-to-day management practices such as nutrition and bull fertility. Maintaining an adequate nutrition program that includes protein and minerals to maintain body condition will help ensure cows are ready to conceive this summer. Breeding soundness exams will help ensure the bulls are ready, too.

• Look for vaccines that help protect against viruses and bacteria that can cause poor reproductive performance, including IBR virus, BVD Types 1 and 2 viruses, Campylobacter fetus (vibrio) and Lepto hardjo-bovis.

• Examine fetal loss between pregnancy checks and calving to determine reproductive issues that may exist in a herd. Fetal losses of over 2-3% may be indicative of a reproductive disease. Recognize that it is not just about how much the calves weigh at weaning. It is equally important to consider the number of cows that deliver and raise those healthy calves.

The Zoetis portfolio of reproductive vaccines offers producers the flexibility to choose a reproductive vaccination program that best fits their operation and helps reduce the risk of reproductive problems. The portfolio includes bovi-shield gold fp, pregguard gold fp* and cattlemaster gold vaccines lines. Modified-live virus (MLV) vaccines, such as bovi-shield gold fp and pregguard gold fp, help give cattle effective protection and, can be used in pregnant cows provided they are vaccinated according to label directions.

“Producers can help minimize losses from reproductive diseases with MLV vaccines because they help provide a long lasting demonstrated protection when compared to killed IBR and BVD vaccines,” Dr. Linhart said. “Reproductive diseases such as BVD can hurt productivity and can cause significant losses in a herd — and MLV vaccines help protect cows from the reproductive impacts of the BVD virus.”

With cattle prices reaching all-time highs, it’s more important than ever for cow/calf producers to be proactive about their reproductive vaccination programs and make sure a healthy, productive calf hits the ground next spring.

For more information about reproductive health and vaccines, consult a veterinarian, Zoetis representative or visit