Why Use 5-in-1 Vaccine?

Vaccinating your herd with a 5-in-1 vaccine prevents costly stock losses for around 35 cents a dose.

  • A 5-in-1 vaccine covers five of the most common diseases caused by species of the toxin-forming Clostridium bacteria.
  • A 7-in-1 vaccine may only be necessary if leptospirosis is an issue in breeding cow herds.
  • Initially cattle should be given two vaccinations four to six weeks apart followed by a single annual booster.

Vaccines for botulism, three-day sickness (ephemeral fever), tick fever and pestivirus very clearly indicate the main purpose of the vaccine, but what do you get when you purchase a 5-in-1 vaccine?

5-in-1 vaccine is probably the most commonly used vaccine in the Australian beef industry. It’s called ‘5-in-1’ vaccine because it includes protection against five clostridial diseases found throughout Australia: tetanus, pulpy kidney (enterotoxaemia), gas gangrene (malignant oedema), blackleg and Black’s disease.

Clostridial bacteria are very interesting. They survive as spores in the soil and only cause problems under certain conditions. The diseases themselves are not contagious between cattle but mini-outbreaks have occurred in certain instances. The diseases are usually fatal but can be readily prevented; prevention is far better than the cure.

Tetanus
Tetanus is caused by Clostridium tetani and occurs throughout Australia. The disease is not common in cattle. It is associated with deep penetrating wounds and wounds where the air is excluded (e.g. castration wounds associated with closure of the cut or application of an elastrator ring or Burdizzo castrator).

C. tetani multiply in anaerobic environments (i.e. no oxygen) and produce a deadly toxin. Initially an affected animal shows an anxious expression on its face, the third eyelid starts to cover the inside of the eye, and movements become stiff. Death usually follows.

Pulpy Kidney
Pulpy kidney, or enterotoxaemia, usually occurs when the amount of carbohydrates in the diet increases substantially. It’s most commonly seen when animals enter a feedlot but can also occur when animals go from a high roughage diet to a high digestible forage diet, such as lucerne or clovers.

Sometimes producers incorrectly believe that their animals are dying from bloat when they are actually dying from the toxin produced by C. perfringens, and vice versa. If animals die suddenly after grazing on lush pastures, it is important to establish the exact cause of the death as a 5-in-1 vaccine will not prevent deaths from bloat.

Blackleg
This is a disease that affects young, well-grown animals. Affected animals are usually found dead in the paddock.

The disease-causing organism, C. chauvoei, travels via the bloodstream and lodges in muscle groups that have undergone some internal tissue damage. It rapidly multiplies (in an anaerobic environment) causing a massive release of deadly toxin and further tissue damage.

Gas Gangrene
Gas gangrene (or malignant oedema) is caused by C. septicum, which enters the animal after routine husbandry procedures such as castration and branding. Swelling and formation of gas under the skin are often associated with the infection. Treatment with appropriate antibiotics can be effective if the disease is diagnosed early enough. Cases of gas gangrene have been reported on properties north of the border between Queensland and New South Wales.

Black’s Disease
This disease is caused by C. novyi type B and is associated with liver fluke infestations. The migration of the liver fluke through the tissues of the liver establishes a traumatised anaerobic area where this organism can multiply.

Liver fluke have only been identified in isolated areas of south-east Queensland so this disease is of little concern to most producers.

Cost–Benefit of 5-in-1
It is difficult to determine the extent of stock losses from clostridial diseases in beef herds because opportunities to monitor animals after husbandry procedures are limited and affected animals are often found dead, making the diagnosis difficult.

Nevertheless, 5-in-1
vaccine costs about $0.35/dose. Any losses greater than 0.1 per cent (i.e. 1 out of 1000) prior to vaccination would mean that vaccination at branding would be one of the most cost-effective health programs you could employ in a cattle breeding enterprise.

Another way to help reduce losses from clostridial diseases would be to adopt best practice standards for routine husbandry practices such as castration and branding.

What about 7-in-1 vaccine?
7-in-1 vaccine is a 5-in-1 vaccine that has been combined with two strains of leptospirosis vaccine. Leptospirosis is a contagious bacterial disease that affects young calves and breeding females, causing stillbirths and abortion in late pregnancy. It should be used on breeding females and replacement heifers where a problem is known to exist. Male cattle and cull heifers will not need to be vaccinated with this product. It is much more expensive than the 5-in-1 vaccine so its use should be targeted to reduce costs

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