What Does ‘Working Cows’ and ‘Vaccination Day’ Mean?

by Amy on October 19, 2012

Every fall we work our cattle to implement our vaccination program on our cows against known cattle diseases to ensure individual animal and overall herd health. We schedule a Saturday with our vet to vaccinate and pregnancy test our mother cows. Last weekend was our vaccination day.

Working cows entails friends and neighbors working together to help us gather, sort off the bulls, and sorting off the cows from the calves so each bunch can get their proper vaccines. It’s the best chance we have to look over each animal after coming off of the summer range for any health issues that need addressed. This is also the time when we get a good head count of how many cows we’re going to keep, what cows need to be culled and how many calves we’re going to sell. This is the day we sort off a steer or heifer calf to finish for butcher that will eventually fill our freezer and believe me, we are ready to be resupplied with homegrown beef! Our freezer’s looking pretty sparse. Someone gets assigned marking down the heifers and bull calves, and how many opens (cows not bred) and lates (expected to calve later) we have once they’re preg checked by our vet.

Ranchers care about their cattle as much as they do their own children and pets. If our kids were struck with a disease that could cause them harm or even death as a result of not vaccinating them, we would regret not protecting them and would likely never forgive ourselves for not opting to take advantage of the safer alternative to protect their health. The concept of vaccinating cattle is a similar to what we as parents do for our children. We make sure our herd gets inoculated against known diseases that could cause them to get sick, crippled or die from.


As cattle owners it is our responsibility to feed and care for our herd on a daily basis but their health care is our responsibility as well. We work with our vet to ensure we’re vaccinating them for what we need to. The list generally stays the same every year but we always touch base prior to vaccination day just in case she’s learned of anything new we need to consider.


We vaccinate for things like pneumonia, venereal diseases, respitory diseases, BVD (bovine viral diarrhea), PI3 (parainfluenza-3 virus), and blackleg (clostridial disease). We also protect them against parasites and give them a vitamin A and D supplement shot.

Implementing a vaccination program is not only ensuring our animals’ good health but we are protecting our investment and livelihood. Our livestock provide us with a job and income as well as the best lifestyle on earth and our livestock’s health is something we take great care in protecting. It’s simple; we take care of our cows and they take care of us.

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Renee-Lucie Benoit January 6, 2013 at 8:37 pm

This reminds me of the day last fall where I was standing there at the ready with the selenium pellet “gun”. My job was to load selenium pellets and hand the gun to Don who gave them the dose. He also gave vacs. My husband who is pretty burly got to man the “slammer” to trap the cow in the chute. Connie was there loading syringes and telling Don “under the skin” or “muscle”. Sara sprayed fly spray and checked for physical problems. Jay, on foot, got the girls into position to go into the chute. Yes, it sure enough is a team effort like you say!

Amy January 22, 2013 at 5:24 am

I really don’t know what we’d do without good neighbors and our kids’ help!

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