You don't need a PHD to see the benefits of a PHD and vaccinating!

As the days shorten, thoughts turn to cattle housing although growing numbers are successfully prolonging the grazing season maximising it and incorporating alternative forage crops such as fodder beet and kale etc. The majority utilising electric fence strip grazing providing a cost effective and flexible solution. This can also be a period when creep feeding or grazing is introduced to suckled calves whose mothers may by now, only provide 50% or less of their nutritional requirements (Source; Stewart, UGA Extension). Creep feeding concentrate supplements gets animals ready for their housed diet, but creep grazing also provides access to cost-effective fresh forage still achieving Daily Liveweight Gain (DLWG) targets. One method is to build a creep gate in the fence line or at the field gate. Another is to use one strand of electric wire placed high enough to allow calves to run under and graze keeping cows out.

Housing cattle for many though is inevitable, desirable even if weaning suckler calves for example or to achieve high DLWG when growing and finishing cattle with higher inputs.

Cattle are traditionally treated for internal and external parasites as well as being vaccinated for Bovine Respiratory Diseases (BRD) upon housing. Significant benefits though, are achieved with a Pre-Housing Dose (PHD) a month or so before they go in to combat internal and external parasites. A Vaccination against BRD can also be given at the same time too.

The PHD ensures any lungworm infection particularly common at this time of year in younger stock is dealt with in a timely way. Using a persistent wormer not only kills existing internal worm burdens, but the persistent effect deals with larvae they subsequently pick up whilst still at grass, so they are still clean when housed.

Removal of stomach worms can improve younger animal’s appetites maximising the use of the last autumn grass and ensuring maximum uptake of conserved forage and concentrates when coming inside. This can be a stressful period especially for suckled calves being weaned and less stress reduces disease prevalence during this testing time.

Using a PHD also allows any damaged lungs to heal during the PHD persistent protection period pre-housing, so animals with healthier respiratory systems are less prone to BRD challenges such as pneumonia, IBR and Pasteurella.

It is suggested that the greatest challenge for housed animals is generally in the first 7 to 10 days, so vaccinating them BEFORE they go inside ensures protection already in place when most needed i.e. during the first few weeks


Vaccines stimulate an animal’s immune system to protect itself against disease. This doesn’t occur immediately after vaccination but can be 5 days to several weeks.

Persistent wormers also kill both biting and sucking lice, ensuring clean animal hides at housing improving winter welfare and performance.

Another consideration is Fasciola hepatica or Fluke estimated to cost the UK cattle industry £23 million annually (Source; NADIS). Treatment if often delayed to post-housing ensuring both mature and immature fluke are treated unless an all lifecycle stage Triclabendazole is used.

When administering anthelmintics or vaccines to cattle, either PHD or when housed, best practise should apply. This can start with knowing the weight of the animal pre-treatment and dosing to the heaviest in the batch so underdosing is avoided and resistance build-up prevented. Instructions do change and should always be read beforehand.