Animal Science Department


Date of this Version

December 1993


Published for Proceedings, The Range Beef Cow Symposium XIII December 6, 7, & 8, 1993, Cheyenne, WY.


According to National Cattlemen's Association data, there are approximately 35 million beef cows and 10 million dairy cows in the United States. Combining pre-calving, pre-weaning, yearling, breeding bulls and replacement heifer vaccination opportunities to utilize Clostridial immunization programs, it is estimated that well in excess of 100 million doses of various Clostridial containing products are used each year. Knowing which products stimulate satisfactory antibody levels and their duration of response is an essential part of making informed recommendations to producers for controlling disease. Presently, non-industry, controlled field studies assessing Clostridial products are not available.

Specifically, Clostridium perfringens Type C is a common cause of neonatal calf diarrhea. Although histopathological diagnoses of this disease are made, these cases are frequently difficult to confirm. They are often referred to as sudden/unknown death in calves. From 18 veterinary diagnostic laboratories across the United States contributing to the USDA:APHIS:VS DxMONITOR (summer, 1992), 237 suspected cases of Clostridium perfringens Types C were tested during the period January 1, 1992 to March 31, 1992, but only 22 cases were confirmed. As such, Veterinary Clinicians must rely on gross necropsy results and frequently make recommendations with limited confirmatory information. Anecdotal information from several veterinary clinicians suggests that the incidence of these non-confirmed diagnoses diminished greatly with the use of Clostridium perfringens C&D products prophylactically.

Various opinions abound as to whether the best response to controlling Clostridium perfringens Type C or sudden death in young beef calves is achieved with the use of toxoid, antitoxin, or both, and whether an acceptable response is achieved by administration at birth, two-weeks, or at two-months-of-age. Lack of definitive information regarding optimum protection afforded by the use of these products and their timing leads to possible ineffective use. This, therefore, results in increased cost of the production by both product purchase and labor, and possible increased tissue damage as observed by several Beef Quality Assurance Programs using 7-way Clostridial products.