Time to plan pre-turnout vaccinations

Time to plan pre-turnout vaccinations

As we approach the warmer weather and turnout, it is time to turn our minds to preventing diseases such as Leptospirosis, a bacterial infection capable of leading to fertility issues, weak and sickly calves and abortions.  What is more, Leptospirosis can affect humans and this poses a risk to all farm workers managing cattle.

To raise awareness and encourage farmers to check their herd’s status, farmacy.co.uk is actively supporting National Lepto Month, an initiative in Farmers Guardian and Dairy Farmer throughout February.  National Lepto Month aims to get as many farmers as possible to evaluate the risk factors for their herd and, once armed with that information, to work with us to plan how best to manage the threat of this disease on your farm.


Is your farm at risk?

  • Do you buy in cattle?
  • Do your cattle sometimes graze with sheep?           
  • Do you use a bull?
  • Do your cattle have access to a watercourse? 

If you have answered yes to any of these, your stock could be at risk of Leptospirosis infection, one of the most common diseases seen in UK beef and dairy cattle.  Screening shows that around half to two thirds of cattle test positive for exposure to Leptospirosis but what is sometimes overlooked is that after exposure an animal can become a carrier of the disease for months or even life.

The disease is caused by infection with spirochaete bacteria from the Leptospira group.  Two different strains are of importance to UK cattle – L.hardjo prajitno and L. hardjo bovis.  We recommend Leptavoid-H® as it is the only vaccine licensed to protect stock against both strains in the UK.


How is the disease transmitted?

The bacteria settle in the reproductive tract and the kidneys and are shed in the urine of infected animals. Infection is commonly acquired when the infected urine splashes into eyes, wounds and the mouth. It may also be ingested through urine-contaminated feed or water, or during service.


What are the signs of the disease?

  • infertility
  • fever
  • loss of appetite
  • weak calves
  • abortion - usually 6-12 weeks after infection

On most units, Leptospirosis is present as an insidious disease causing grumbling fertility problems, rather than affecting naïve herds and causing highly visible abortion storms and large-scale milk drop. The disease can be a major cause of poor conception rates as it can cause early embryonic loss and unexpected returns to service. Apart from a tangible increase in AI costs there are also losses in milk yield associated with extended calving intervals, as well as high cull rates especially in block calving herds.

Turnout is often the time when heifers who, for whatever reason have not had their full two-dose primary course, are most at risk.  Mixing cattle means that the disease spreads easily from infected to uninfected animals and if heifers have not had their two doses four to six weeks apart with the final dose two weeks prior to turnout, immunity may not be optimised.  This is a busy time for all farmers, with many vaccine boosters required in a short space of time.  Remember that since last year, Leptavoid-H can be used concurrently with Bovilis BVD® - it can be given at the same time to the same animal. Each vaccine is to be given by separate routes and sites, to animals of 8 months or older. The concurrent use in cattle may result in fewer animal interventions, less stress and better welfare.

Leptavoid-H is licensed to reduce the shedding of Leptospira interrogans serovar hardjo (prajitno) in urine and it is also licensed to improve herd fertility when Leptospira hardjo is the cause of infertility.  Leptavoid-H is the only Leptospirosis vaccine licensed to protect stock against both strains in the UK.

1st January 2012

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