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Technology adoption, management practices and vaccine use in Canadian cow-calf herds



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An understanding of current technology adoption and management practices including vaccination protocols used by Canadian cow-calf herds is important to understand current practices, identify areas for improvement, and direct extension programs. Adoption of technologies and practices that increase reproductive performance and increase production efficiency is important for the long-term economic sustainability of the beef industry. Vaccines are one of the most important tools available to cow-calf producers to control disease within and across herds, and to reduce economic losses caused by disease burden across all beef production sectors. To date, regional surveys have attempted to collect this information, but the lack of uniform data prevents the comparison of herds in different regions of the country. The aim of this thesis is to address this gap in technology adoption and record keeping data, and determine, the vaccine protocols employed in cow-calf herds across the country. In Chapter 2, a mail survey was used to gather data regarding the different technologies and record keeping practices utilized by Canadian cow-calf producers. Survey data was returned from 131 herds across 8 provinces (91 western and 40 eastern herds). The most widely adopted practices were the maintenance of individual female production records, feed testing, and the use of an on-farm animal weigh scale. Differences between eastern and western Canadian herds were identified. Western producers were more likely to use nutritional technologies including the use of a nutritionist, feed testing and growth promoting implants in calves, while eastern producers were more likely to use artificial insemination. Large herd size (>300 cows) was associated with adoption of data collection technologies and recommended practices including use of weigh scales, RFID tag scanners, utilizing a defined breeding season, and feed testing. Similar to past reports, paper systems were the main record keeping medium. Producers who maintained production records utilized them for culling decisions and replacement heifer selection. While adoption of many types of technology has increased across Canada, there is still room for uptake up technologies that allow for more efficient animal management in all provinces. Chapter 3 utilized the same producer survey as Chapter 2. Vaccination protocols used in Canadian cow-calf herds were investigated as a critical herd and animal disease management tool. Viral bovine respiratory disease pathogens: Infectious bovine rhinotracheitis (IBR), Bovine respiratory syncytial virus (BRSV), Parainfluenza virus type 3 (PI3), and Bovine viral diarrhea virus Types 1 and 2 (BVDV) were the most common vaccines administered to all cattle, followed by clostridial vaccines. Use of clostridial vaccines was more likely in western herds than eastern herds. For the purpose of this study, suckling calves are defined as all calves prior to weaning. Vaccination of suckling calves against IBR/BRSV/PI3 (92%) and BVDV (78%) was common, however only 47% and 39% of calves were administered a booster for these targets respectively, prior to weaning. Calves administered a viral respiratory vaccine prior to 3 months of age were more commonly administered a second vaccine of that target prior to weaning compared to those first vaccinated after 3 months of age. Use of intranasal vaccines in neonatal calves has increased since previous reports and vaccine use across Canada generally follow veterinarian core vaccine recommendations. While vaccine use has increased across Canada, most notably in calves prior to weaning, areas for improvement remain. Vaccine protocols including number of doses and timing of delivery vary widely within and across provinces, regardless of product used and label instructions.



technology, record-keeping, cow-calf, vaccine, beef cattle, disease control, management



Master of Science (M.Sc.)


Large Animal Clinical Sciences


Large Animal Clinical Sciences



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