Use of vaccines in cattle

Read our findings about vaccine use in cattle.

Summary points for cattle vaccines

Vaccine sales

The total number of doses of cattle vaccines sold increased by 25% between 2011 and 2020.

Many factors contribute to fluctuations in vaccine sales, including changes in the dose regimes and manufacturing and supply issues. Sales from wholesalers do not necessarily equate to use in that year. However, it is still useful in estimating the likely level of protection in the target group.

Table 1. Vaccine uptake in cattle

  2011 2012 2013 2014 2015 2016 2017 2018 2019 2020
Total number cattle <1yr 2,882,124 2,925,381 2,805,692 2,821,564 2,939,446 2,970,831 2,948,192 2,888,432 2,858,673 2,900,057
Calf pneumonia vaccines 29% 31% 35% 36% 36% 37% 38% 40% 36% 43%
                     
Total cattle and calves 9,840,128 9,850,583 9,762,925 9,765,127 9,867,061 9,919,436 9,895,124 9,750,599 9,598,732 9,490,300
IBR 17% 19% 22% 23% 22% 22% 25% 26% 26% 30%
                     
Total number of breeding females >1yr 4,809,144 4,819,572 4,786,670 4,784,923 4,861,441 4,911,714 4,908,701 4,846,743 4,788,210 4,749,092
BVD 42% 44% 45% 48% 45% 43% 45% 42% 43% 44%
Leptospirosis 32% 36% 33% 37% 32% 31% 33% 31% 27% 32%
                     
Total no. of breeding females (> 2yrs)  3,447,349 3,425,541 3,381,793 3,414,746 3,470,189 3,471,979 3,461,981 3,411,519 3,367,844 3,333,094
Calf enteritis 15% 18% 12% 17% 17% 16% 18% 19% 18% 19%
                     
Total doses of vaccine sold 8,462,739 9,348,562 9,325,950 10,135,160 9,694,725 9,557,830 10,133,805 9,838,905 9,444,475 10,572,960

Vaccine use analysis

The biggest increase in vaccine uptake between 2011 and 2020 was for IBR (76%), calf pneumonia (45%) and calf enteritis (33%). In cattle, pneumonia and scour is responsible for a considerable but unknown proportion of antibiotic use. Given the focus on the responsible use of antibiotics, it is promising that farmers may have prioritised spend on these vaccines.

The estimated proportion of cattle vaccinated for Bovine Viral Diarrhoea (BVD) has fluctuated in a relatively narrow range between 42% and 45% over the decade from 2011 to 2020. The proportion of breeding cattle vaccinated for Leptospirosis has generally been around 32% over the same time period, although there was a sharp drop in 2019 when there were supply issues.

Pneumonia vaccines

Pneumonia is responsible for a considerable amount of antibiotics in cattle. There are good vaccines available and these should be considered to protect the herd and reduce antibiotic usage. 

Find out more about pneumonia vaccine use in cattle

Infectious Bovine Rhinotracheitis (IBR) vaccines

IBR causes severe respiratory disease that can lead to fatal pneumonia. The virus can infect the upper respiratory tract and/or the reproductive tract. Mortality is low, but economic losses can be important.

Read more about Infectious Bovine Rhinotracheitis (IBR) vaccines

Bovine Viral Diarrhoea (BVD) virus vaccines in cattle

BVD virus is one of the most important viral infections of cattle. The virus infects cattle of all age groups, including the unborn calf. 

More information on Bovine Viral Diarrhoea (BVD) virus vaccines

Leptospirosis vaccines

Leptospirosis is a zoonotic disease caused by bacteria of the Leptospira genus. It is a common infection in dairy and beef herds and causes infertility, abortion and poor milk yield. 

Find out more about Leptospirosis vaccines in cattle

Calf enteritis vaccines

Calf enteritis, or calf scour, is a common problem found on most cattle farms in the UK. It can be a major cause of poor growth and calf mortality. 

Read more information about calf enteritis vaccines

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