Online vaccination calendar simplifies routine vaccinations

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4,500 dairy and sheep farmers across Ireland have now signed up to MSD Animal Health’s online vaccination calendar, which was launched in 2016. This innovative tool helps to remind farmers of key vaccination dates on their farms via a free text message service, and it has now been updated to an even more user-friendly version.

It is also now possible to edit existing calendars and to create multiple vaccination calendars. The multiple calendar option is proving very popular with veterinary practitioners as it enables them to create herd health plans for their farmer clients. Also, farmers that may be managing more than one herd can now create herd-specific health plans.

Farmers using the calendar have reported a number of benefits resulting from planning ahead and taking a preventative approach to animal health. A reduced level of disease on farms means less labour is required to attend to sick animals, time is freed up to spend on other important tasks, and overall animal health and performance is improved.

Along with being free, another key draw of the vaccination calendar is the reminder service that is provided to farmers. A text message is sent to the farmer seven days before each vaccine booster is due. If users provide an email address in the contact details, a reminder email is also sent. The full calendar is also emailed to the user. This can be printed off and used as a reminder of the critical vaccination dates.

How the calendar works

The calendar allows dairy, beef, or sheep farmers to keep track of key vaccination dates on their farms. It is available to download at Farmers or vets need to follow six simple steps to generate their own personalised calendar, outlined below:

Step 1: Choose your farm enterprise

Step 2: Identify the animals that require vaccination

On beef farms, farmers can choose either cows, calves, weanlings or replacement heifers, while dairy farmers can choose to design a calendar for cows, calves or replacement heifers.

The livestock options available on sheep farms include ewes, lambs, hoggets and rams. The options available on dairy farms are cows, calves or replacement heifers.

Step 3: Choose the calving season

Both beef and dairy farmers are asked to enter the calving seasons on their farm when completing the cost-free vaccination calendar.

Step 4: Enter calving and breeding dates

Farmers are also asked to enter the start of calving date, this will ensure that farmers are given a timely reminder to vaccinate their cows.

To ensure that the calendar is functional, farmers and vets are also required to enter details on the breeding start date.

Step 5: Select the diseases that are to be included in the calendar

To complete the vaccination calendar, farmers are required to enter details of the diseases they intend on vaccinating against.

When this information is submitted, a vaccination calendar is generated to remind farmers of the correct time to vaccinate their animals.

MSD Animal Health is committed to highlighting the importance of disease prevention in order to enhance productivity in farming, while also reducing antibiotic use in food producing animals. Use of vaccines to prevent disease has increased more than three-fold over the past decade and MSD Animal Health is the largest supplier of preventative vaccines in Ireland. With increasing numbers of farmers moving towards multiple disease prevention protocols, this calendar helps to simplify routine vaccination, leading to healthier, more productive animals and more sustainable production systems.