Animal Science Department


Date of this Version

December 2005


Published for the Proceedings, The Range Beef Cow Symposium XIX December 6, 7 and 8, 2005, Rapid City, South Dakota.


Vaccination programs have long been touted to be the answer to all your cattle disease problems. It isn’t that way. Vaccination is only one of many tools that producers and ranchers have at their disposal to try and manage an efficient and profitable operation. There are many other tools at their disposal.

When discussing vaccines, I have a favorite quote from Dr. Tim Richards at Kamuela, HI. He was the veterinarian for Parker ranch, the largest ranch in the United States. When Dr. Richards made that quote, Parker ranch was sending their feeder cattle by boat to the mainland for finish feeding. At that time Parker feeder cattle were experiencing a morbidity rate <1.5% and a mortality rate < 0.8%. These are fantastic rates. How did they get them so low? Dr. Richards said “All my health programs start with nutrition.” He is absolutely right. As a veterinarian I can not over come substandard nutrition with a bunch of vaccines. We need to have an animal at an above adequate plane of nutrition if we expect them to have an above average response to a vaccine.