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Northern Beef
Program Checklists


Northern Beef Checklists

A quick reference guide to key recommendations

The Northern Beef Program aims to help cattle producers in northern Australia manage their herds more effectively and achieve optimum reproductive performance.


Disease Management

Clostridial Disease Losses from weaning to turn of primarily.  Breeder mortality. Vaccinate calves and cows with Ultravac® 5-in-1 or Ultravac® 7-in-1.
Botulism Losses from weaning to turn off primarily. Breeder mortality. Vaccinate weaners with Longrange®. Vaccinate all stock annually thereafter with Ultravac® Botulinum or Longrange®.
Vibriosis 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.
Trichomoniasis 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.
Pestivirus (BVDV) 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®.
Leptospirosis 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.
Tick Fever 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.
Coccidiosis 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.
Dehorning Losses 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

Vaccination program

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

Vaccination program (at annual examination):

  • Booster dose Ultravac Botulinum/Longrange (Botulism)
  • Booster dose Vibrovax
  • 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)
  • Cull unsuitable types – poor temperament/conformation


  • 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
Age/Time 6 wks 12 wks 4 wks-6 mths pre-joining 2-4 wks pre-joining Pregnancy testing (annual boosters) Pregnancy testing 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
Vibrovax *
Ultravac 7in1 §
*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.
Longrange One shot at first muster 1st dose for previously unvaccinated cattle Annual booster every year
Ultravac Botulinum Alternative annual booster to Longrange
BEF vaccine 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


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

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