One of my least favorite parenting memories was spending the night in the hospital enclosed in a breathing tent with my oldest daughter. She was preschool age, and the worst part of the entire episode was the knowledge that I could have done something proactive to prevent it. My daughter had influenza and developed an additional complication called “croup”. The combination of the two made it so that she could not breathe. I still kick myself for not having taken her to get the flu shot that fall when it was offered…
I did, at least, learn from my mistake and I am pleased to report that my girls and I have all received the flu shot every fall since that episode. We have a pact with each other: someone volunteers to go first, and the rule is that if the person before you does not cry, then you can’t cry either…It works like a charm for my oldest two girls…Karyn (my youngest) still ekes out a few tears.
Last week was “flu shot” week, and I have to admit that I was so busy at the feed yard that I forgot about it. I picked up the kids at school and headed back out to the feed yard…We were about to leave town when my oldest daughter said: “Mama, we have to go and get flu shots today. Can’t you remember ANYTHING!” While I laughed at her righteous tone of voice, her sisters groaned and protested loudly stating: “Why did you have to remind her?!”. Ashley Grace replied, “Well, getting a little shot is a whole lot better than getting the flu!”
Cattle vaccinations are just as important as human vaccinations, and having a good plan or protocol regarding the timing and type of vaccination is incredibly important for the health and well-being of your calves. I work closely with my veterinarian to ensure that we have the best vaccination protocol for each set of cattle that arrives at the feed yard.
I give all of the vaccines at the feed yard which means that over the past 15 years, I have given close to two hundred thousand shots. I think that it is important to point out that a vaccine is not an antibiotic, and when you see a picture of someone giving a shot to an animal please do not automatically assume that it is an injection of antibiotic. I use A LOT more vaccine at my feed yard than I do antibiotics! I give vaccination injections to ALL of my cattle in order to stimulate their immune systems and keep them healthy—I only administer antibiotic injections to animals that are clinically ill (which averages out to be less than 5% of my cattle).
I rely on my cow/calf partners to give the proper vaccinations to their cattle on the ranch, and then I booster those vaccinations when the cattle arrive at the feed yard. I call this, “setting my animals up for success” because properly vaccinated cattle are significantly less likely to become clinically ill than cattle who have not been properly vaccinated.
Healthy animals make healthy beef—beef that is feeding my daughters as well as you and your family! Of all of my jobs at the feed yard, “the vaccinator” is one of the most important…