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Calf vaccination and mineral treatment

Protecting your calves now protects the income from your herd down the line.

Leptospirosis (Lepto)

Lepto is a bacterial disease that can affect most mammals.

Although it does not often cause severe illness in cattle, it is one of the most common diseases to be transmitted from animals to people in New Zealand and vaccination of cattle is therefore important to protect farmers and farm workers.

To prevent calves becoming carriers of lepto it is important that they are vaccinated before being exposed to infection. This means that vaccination can be started as early as four weeks of age. A booster four to six weeks later is needed to ensure protection.

Thereafter reliable immunity lasts for 12 to 13 months, so it is recommended to give your calves a third shot when you do the rest of your herd’s annual ‘Lepto’ vaccination to line up the calves with the rest of the herd.


Various species of Clostridia bacteria live in soils and intestinal tracts of animals and humans and are responsible for causing tetanus, pulpy kidney, blackleg, malignant oedema and black disease. Once affected by Clostridial bacteria, animals often die suddenly and those that are seen to be sick seldom respond to treatment. Vaccination is very effective and young stock should be vaccinated for the first time at four to six weeks of age and a booster given four to six weeks later. An annual booster shot is required for life-long protection.

The easiest way to start a vaccination program for Lepto and Clostridial diseases is to vaccinate your calves with Ultravac® 7in1 at disbudding and then give a booster shot four to six weeks later. Ultravac® 7in1 vaccine incorporates a 5in1 Clostridial vaccine plus two strains of Lepto.

Mineral treatment

Many calves are born with relatively low levels of minerals and trace elements, leaving them with a poor immunity and an inability to grow optimally.

Copper, selenium, zinc and manganese are an essential component of many of the enzymes that are needed to efficiently utilise all the feed consumed by a calf. If these minerals are lacking, digestion and processing of nutrients will not be optimal and growth rates will be lower than expected even if calves are fed quality feed and are eating well.

Even in clean, well-managed pens and if fed high quality colostrum, calves are at a high risk of disease. An optimum supply of vitamins and trace elements is therefore essential in order to develop a strong immune system. Selenium, vitamin E and vitamin C are the most important immunity boosters, while copper, zinc and manganese also play a role.

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