Development of Extension Tools to Improve Vaccine Usage and Efficacy in Canadian Beef Herds

Project Title

Improving Vaccine Usage and Efficacy in Western Canadian Beef Herds to Reduce Disease Risks


Dr. Joyce Van Donkersgoed – consulting bovine veterinarian and researcher

Josie Van Lent, Andrea Hanson, Adelle Gervin – Lakeland College Dr. Barbara Wilhelm – Western Canadian Animal Health Network Dr. Eugene Janzen, Dr. Claire Windeyer – University of Calgary, Faculty of Veterinary Medicine Dr. Bill Newton – cow/calf producer, veterinarian Dr. Blaine Pickard – cow/calf veterinarian Dr. Bruce Kostelansky, Dr. Dorothy Erickson – Zoetis Dr. Janice Berg, Dr. Colleen Pollock – Merck Animal Health Dr. Tim Nickel – Boehringer Ingelheim Dr. Dan Shock – Hipra Dr. Lacey Fowler – Elanco Marianne Possberg – Saskatchewan Cattlemen’s Association

Status Project Code
In progress. Results expected in June, 2023 KTT.06.21


Concerns have been raised on low vaccination rates in beef herds in Canada and the need to reduce the amount of antimicrobials used in beef cattle to prevent, control, and treat disease. Strategic vaccination is a cost-effective tool to prevent/control disease. There are currently no industry-wide supported, nonpartisan extension tools available for Canadian cow/calf producers and veterinarians to demonstrate how to use the different types and newer vaccines properly. As well, there are no unbiased, short, easy to use extension tools available to summarize major disease risks in beef cow/calf herds, with industry recommended “key” vaccines that should be used by all Canadian cow/calf producers, along with current information on which vaccines are not efficacious or may not be cost effective based on specific disease risks in an individual producer’s herd.

Current, up to date, scientific information is important for cow/calf producers and veterinarians to help them collectively make informed vaccine decisions specific to each herd, both in the best interest of the cattle as well as the economic bottom-line of each producer.


The objectives of this project include:

  • improve vaccine efficacy/safety and reduce vaccine wastage through proper vaccine handling and administration;
  • improve strategic use of vaccines based on specific herd disease risks and management;
  • reduce disease risks; thus, improving animal welfare and public trust by increasing producer understanding of major cow/calf diseases and role of specific vaccinations in a holistic cost-effective approach to herd management.

What they will do

This project will:

  • Develop a series of short videos highlighting proper vaccine handling including transport, storage, mixing, administration, disposal, warnings, and human/animal safety;
  • Conduct a survey of Western Canadian veterinarians to better understand why they recommend various vaccines to cow/calf producers and how they communicate that information to producers;
  • Develop questionnaires, decision trees, and check lists for cow/calf producers and veterinarians to facilitate evidence-based, herd specific, cost-effective vaccination protocols based on individual herd goals, disease risks, and management;
  • Create PowerPoint presentations (with information also distributed via videos, factsheets, blogs, articles, infographics, and podcasts) to discuss why producers should vaccinate, what core vaccines should be used in all Canadian cow/calf herds, information on major diseases, and potential cost-benefit of vaccinating with various vaccines;
  • Conduct a survey of producers and veterinarians after extension tools have been distributed to evaluate the value of the tools in improving strategic, practical, cost-effective vaccinations in beef herds.


Expected implications include reduced disease risks and vaccine wastage because of proper handling and administration of current vaccines. Additionally, it is anticipated that improved animal health and welfare along with public trust will be seen due to improved communications between producers and veterinarians arising from increased knowledge of diseases and use of herd specific, risk-based decision tools for implementation of cost-effective vaccinations.