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The Northern Beef Program aims to help cattle producers in northern Australia manage their herds more effectively and achieve optimum reproductive performance.
MEASURABLE IMPACT (observed syndrome)
Losses from weaning to turn of primarily. Breeder mortality.
Vaccinate calves and cows with Ultravac® 5-in-1 or Ultravac® 7-in-1.
Losses from weaning to turn off primarily. Breeder mortality.
Vaccinate weaners with Longrange®. Vaccinate all stock annually thereafter with Ultravac® Botulinum or Longrange®.
Low pregnancy rate in heifers (if control mated). Losses from pregnancy testing to branding. Too many late calves.
Vaccinate heifers with Vibrovax® prior to mating (if bull control is poor). Vaccinate bulls with Vibrovax® annually. Cull heifers and cows that do not calve in 12-month cycle.
Low pregnancy rate in heifers and cows. Losses from pregnancy testing to branding. Too many late calves.
Cull micky bulls and old unmusterable bulls. Test bulls prior to mating and cull infected bulls. Cull heifers and cows that do not calve in 12-month cycle.
Low pregnancy rate (in control mated heifers). Too many late calves (second calvers and cows). Losses from pregnancy testing to calving. Losses from weaning to turn off and cattle that fail to grow well. Increased scours/coccidiosis and pneumonia in calves, weaners and growing cattle.
Determine herd status using tests for antibodies. Vaccinate heifers prior to mating with Pestigard®.
Losses from pregnancy testing to calving. Leptospirosis in workers.
Vaccinate calves with Ultravac® 7-in-1 or Leptoshield®. Vaccinate cows with Ultravac® 7-in-1 or Leptoshield®.
3-day Sickness (Bovine Ephemeral Fever)
Clinical disease and losses in young, growing cattle, replacement heifers and introduced bulls. Low pregnancy rate (if bulls affected). Losses from pregnancy testing to branding in heifer’s calves (if heifers affected).
Vaccinate bulls with BEF vaccine. Young cattle and introduced bulls are at most risk in Northern Australia.
Vitamin A Deficiency
Losses from pregnancy testing to branding.
Inject cows with good quality Vitamin A preparation at pregnancy testing in years following low wet season rainfall where green feed/schrubs have been unavailable.
Losses from weaning to turnoff. Losses in introduced cows and bulls.
Vaccinate bulls and weaners with Tick Fever vaccine. Consider vaccinating introduced stock, especially if lower Bos Indicus.
Scouring, often with persistent straining and blood tinged faeces and occasional nervous signs (receumbency and padding seizures).
Add an ionophere (e.g. Bovatec) to supplements.
Breed polled cattle
Select true polled bulls using HornPoll generic test.
Cattle Best Practice Vaccination and Drenching Instructional Videos
Breeder Cow Management Checklist
Adjust stocking rate according to available pasture at end of growing period
Target body condition score at calving 3/5
Calves weaned at first and second round musters down to 100kg before cows lose body condition
Calves weaned down to 60kg late in the dry season if necessary to maintain cow body condition
Establish a breeder cow management system that aims to have the majority of calves born from October to December
Cows that calve “out of season” (from May to September) identified for special management or sale if feed is limiting
a. Booster dose Ultravac Botulinum/Longrange (Botulism – core vaccination)
b. Booster dose Ultravac 7in1 (based on testing and risk assessment)
c. Booster dose Pestigard (based on testing and risk assessment)
Calf Management Checklist
Brand at first muster
Wean if heavy enough
Consider weaning down to 100kg to maintain body condition of the dam
Calves weaned at <140kg will require special care and supplementation
a. Castrate bull calves b. Brand, including age c. Dehorn d. NLIS tag. To obtain maximum value from NLIS devices, link tag sequence to breeder group to allow lifetime traceability to dam group and determination of calving date to within 3 months e. Vaccination/drenching:
i. Dehorn ii. Ultravac 5in1 or Ultravac 7in1 at branding and weaning or weaning and next muster (based on risk assessment) iii. Dectomax® injectable at weaning based on faecal egg count testing of representative groups
Place into weaner paddock spelled during wet season. This ensures pasture is abundant and of good quality and also ensures that worm larval contamination is minimised.
Segregate heifers from steer weaners at 12 months and ensure growth rate to achieve mating weight at 2 years of age
Bull Management Checklist
Have passed a bull breeding soundness examination (BBSE) within 1 month of sale
If purchased as yearlings conduct BBSE 2 months prior to first mating
Balanced EBV’s for Fertility, Growth and Carcass. Use a selection index ($ index) with appropriate weighting on these key traits
Purchased at least 3 months prior to expected use, to allow recovery from transport stress and adaptation
Tested to ensure not Persistently Infected with pestivirus
Vaccinations – completed prior to purchase if 2yo or prior to mating if purchased as yearling’s:
Longrange (Botulism – 1 dose)
Vibrovax (2 doses)
Ultravac 7in1 (2 doses)
BEF (2 doses) (based on risk assessment)
Pestigard (2 doses)
Tick Fever (1 dose) (based on risk assessment)
Cull bulls >8yo. Remove old unmusterable bulls/micky bulls
Cull bulls with obvious physical problems affecting reproductive performance when first observed (injuries, lameness, sheath problems, testicular problems)
Conduct annual physical examination of all remaining herd bulls by August
a. Check carefully for obvious physical abnormalities of feet and legs, sheath, teeth, eyes and testes b. Bulls should be restrained and testes palpated. Further details on this process can be found in the MLA publication ‘Managing the breeder herd’ (pp 4–10)1
Ideally have all bulls semen tested by a veterinarian (Bull Breeding Soundness Evaluation)
Joining percentage – 2.5% regardless of terrain2
Manage bulls so they are in BCS 3/5 before the wet season. Examine bulls that are in poor body condition for evidence of underlying disease
Booster dose Ultravac 7in1 (based on risk assessment)
Booster dose BEF (based on risk assessment)
Booster dose Pestigard (based on risk assessment)
Replacement Heifer Checklist
Heifers are the future of the herd. Replacement heifer management is critical to the success of all cattle breeding enterprises
Develop critical mating weights for your heifers. E.g. Minimum 250 kg at 2nd round muster (Oct/Nov) prior to joining
Heifers under target weight may be mated to select for earlier onset of puberty. However, if this is done, it is critical bulls are removed at the end of the desired mating period to ensure out of season calves are not produced
Institute a Vaccination program (Sept–Nov):
Booster dose – Ultravac Botulinum/Longrange (Botulism – a core vaccination)
Vibrovax – 1 x 5 mL dose if >18mo at vaccination (based on testing and risk assessment)
Pestigard – 2 doses prior to joining
Target >80% PTIC after 2 cycles of mating (42 days)
Plan joining time so heifers will calve when most feed is available – determine optimal timing from historical rainfall records (December to February is ideal for far northern Australia)
Place heifers into a mating paddock. This should be well fenced with quality pasture
Stocking rate set to pasture budget to ensure heifers achieve critical mating weight by mating start date
Pregnancy test 2 months after end of joining. Cull those that are not pregnant and those due to calve outside of the desired time period (if there are sufficient numbers of pregnant animals)
Keep pregnant heifers as a separate management group to allow early weaning. Aim to wean calves in April the following year
Target heifers >400kg when calves are weaned (for Bos Indicus heifers) to ensure >50% re-conception rate
Target losses from PTIC to Weaning <10% (or as per CashCow regional guidelines)
Calved heifers join the main cow herd when PTIC with second calf
1ST SEASON/ NEW BULLS
4 wks-6 mths pre-joining
2-4 wks pre-joining
Pregnancy testing (annual boosters)
6-8 wks pre-joining
2-4 wks pre-joining
2-4 wks pre-joining
1st dose or annual booster
4 wks-6 mths after 1st dose
*Assuming heifers are mated at >18 months of age. † The interval between the priming and booster doses can be extended to 6 months. §Two doses required if previously unvaccinated. ‡ As required based on worm egg counts.
BREEDERS (INCLUDING BULLS)
One shot at first muster
1st dose for previously unvaccinated cattle Annual booster every year
Alternative annual booster to Longrange
1st dose (heifers, steers and bulls more than 6 months old)
2nd dose 2 weeks up to 6 months after first dose Annual booster every year
BEF vaccination programs may be integrated into your Annual Vaccination Program for beef heifers and steers. Consult your veterinarian.
Keeping herds on track for a more profitable future
For more information talk to your Zoetis Cattle Product Representative, call 1800 963 847 or visit www.zoetis.com.au.
Cattle Vaccine Storage and Handling
Zoetis Adverse Events (Sheep-Cattle)
1. Anon. Managing the breeder herd. Practical steps to breeding livestock in northern Australia. Meat and Livestock Australia, Sydney 2006. 2. Fordyce G et al. Bull selection and use in northern Australia 5. Social behaviour and management. Animal Reproduction Science, 71, (2002), 81–99