Willie outlines why this suits most of their farmers: “Most of our herds are spring calving, so December and January are ideal months to boost the entire herd with Rispoval IBR-Marker inactivated under the skin.

"The Rispoval yearly IBR programme is convenient, reliable and offers all of our clients comprehensive protection regardless of the level of IBR infection in their herds.”

In Ireland, nearly 80% of dairy herds are endemically infected with the IBR virus1. Adult cows are frequently latent carriers of infection.

This means they carry the virus without showing any signs of disease except an overall drop in milk yield2. Calves on the other hand generally remain uninfected until they mix with the adult dairy herd, at which point they are at risk of severe clinical disease.


The advantage of the Rispoval yearly IBR programme over other annual IBR programmes is that it can be used in all herds regardless of the level of exposure to the virus.

The combination of a live and inactivated vaccine stimulates the immune response in different ways, resulting in more robust immunity, which provides 12 months of protection from a single booster dose given once a year.

Live IBR vaccines are recognised as stimulating superior cell mediated immunity, which develops quickly and is particularly important in protecting young animals and those in the face of an outbreak leading to less severe disease3.

The inactivated vaccine has been shown to stimulate a more robust humoral or antibody response. This results in less shedding and spread of virus from carrier animals that have already been infected to young unexposed animals entering the milking herd4.

One of Willie’s farmers, Jeremiah O’Neill, also from Bandon, milks 147 dairy cows and has been using the Rispoval yearly IBR programme for the last four to five years.

Jeremiah shares his experience with the programme: “We’ve found it very convenient that the Rispoval IBR-Marker inactivated has to be given only once a year. This frees up a lot of time.

"I definitely recommend the Rispoval yearly IBR programme; it does what it says on the tin and we have had no clinical cases of IBR. We’re very happy with it and will continue to use it for the foreseeable future.”

Traditionally, many vaccination protocols for breeding animals are concentrated around February and March. This is obviously a very busy time for farmers, with cows to be calved, calves to be fed and the milking routine is still not completely bedded in, as every day there are fresh cows and heifers to be introduced into the parlour.

This is an inconvenient time for the farmer to carry out these important protocols and it is not ideal for the cow either.

Immune system

The cow’s immune system is under pressure at this time of year. Freshly calved cows struggle to eat enough to account for the milk they are producing5. This is known as negative energy balance and is visible as a drop in body condition score.

Farmers strive to reduce this, but it inevitably occurs and can compromise the immune system of the cow, resulting in a decrease in their ability to respond to an infectious disease or vaccination6.

Nearly all cows experience some degree of immune suppression during the two to three weeks before and after calving7.

In addition, many cows also suffer from a periparturient disease such as milk fever, mastitis, retained foetal membranes, metritis, ketosis and slipped stomachs.

Research has shown that up to 44% of cows are deemed unhealthy in their first 60 days in milk8.

Further research has shown that vaccines against viral reproductive pathogens may not be as effective in the postpartum period9.

Vaccination in early lactation is unlikely to produce an optimal immune response.

Perhaps now is the time to rethink when cows are vaccinated. The traditional springtime is not ideal for either the freshly calved cow nor for the hard-pressed farmer.

Some vaccines now offer 12 months’ protection without any seasonal restrictions. These vaccines could be used during the winter after cows have been dried off.

December is a quieter time on the farm, because although cows still need to be fed, milking has stopped and there are no newborn calves nor fresh cows to worry about.

At this time, the cows are also healthy and in metabolic stability and their body condition is frequently improving, so an optimal vaccination response can be expected.

Both the Rispoval yearly IBR vaccination programme and Spirovac for lepto control could be given in December.

Animals that have not previously been vaccinated for IBR need to receive a single dose of Rispoval IBR-Marker live into the muscle followed up to six months later with Rispoval IBR-Marker inactivated under the skin.

Once the herd is on the system, it is very easy to operate, as all animals (weanlings, heifers, cows and the bull) receive an annual dose of Rispoval IBR-Marker inactivated under the skin in December and the calves just need to get a single injection of Rispoval IBR-Marker live into the muscle in July or August, when they will all be over three months of age and before they are housed.

Maiden heifers have for many years been vaccinated for lepto in mid-February and mid-March. If Spirovac is used, this could be pulled back to receiving their first injection in November and their second in December when all the cows and pregnant heifers are being vaccinated.

So now is the time to plan to reduce the workload in the busy spring and introduce some labour-saving solutions to make life easier and more effective for both man and beast.

Consider a Rispoval yearly IBR programme that is designed and proven to be effective and convenient when used in December. Spirovac is a yearly lepto vaccine that has no seasonal restrictions and the booster can be given within 12 months at any time of year and not just during the busy spring period.


1. Sayers, R. G., N. Byrne, E. O’Doherty, and S. Arkins (2015). Prevalence of exposure to bovine viral diarrhea virus (BVDV) and bovine herpesvirus-1 (BoHV-1) in Irish dairy herds. Res. Vet. Sci.100:21–30.

2. Sayers (2017). Associations between exposure to bovine herpesvirus 1 (BoHV-1) and milkproduction, reproductive performance, and mortality in Irish dairy herds. Journal of Dairy Science 100:1340-1352.

3. Bosch, J.C., M.J. Kaashoek, A.H. Kroese, J.T. van Oirschot (1996). An attenuated bovine herpes virus 1 marker vaccine induces better than two inactivated marker vaccines. Vet. Microbiol., 52: 223-234.

4. Bosch J.C., Kaashoek M.J., van Oirschot J.T. (1997). Inactivated bovine herpesvirus 1 marker vaccines are more efficacious in reducing virus excretion after reactivation than a live marker vaccine. Vaccine 15:1512-1517.

5. Ryan E (2017). Herd health challenges in springtime. Veterinary Ireland Journal Volume 7 Number 3 p123.

6. Corbett R (2013). Preserve and protect transition cow immunity. Dairy Cattle Reproduction Council Newsletter July 1, 2013, vol 8 issue 3.

7. Goff JP. Transition Cow Immune Function and Interaction with Metabolic Diseases, in Proceedings, Tri-State Dairy Nutrition Conference, April 22-23, 2008.

8. Santos JEP, Bisinotto RS, Ribeiro ES, Lima FS, Greco LF, Staples CR and Thatcher WW (2010). Applying nutrition and physiology to improve reproduction in dairy cattle. Department of Animal Sciences, University of Florida, Gainesville, FL 32611.

9. Walz PH, Montgomery T, Passler T, Riddell KP, Braden TD, Zhang Y, Gallik PK, Zuidhof S (2015). Comparison of reproductive performance of primiparous dairy cattle following revaccination with either modified live or killed multivalent viral vaccines in early lactation. Journal of Dairy Science 98:8753-8763.

Product and company details

Rispoval IBR Marker Live contains Bovine Herpes Virus type 1 (BHV-1), strain Difivac (gE-negative), modified live (attenuated) virus. Legal Status: POM(E)

Rispoval IBR Marker Inactivated contains Bovine Herpes Virus type 1 (BoHV-1), strain Difivac (gE-negative) Legal Status: POM(E)

Spirovac contains Inactivated Leptospira borgpetersenii serovar Hardjo. Legal status: LM

For further information please contact Zoetis, 2nd Floor, Building 10, Cherrywood Business Park, Loughlinstown, Co Dublin (01)2569800 or www.zoetis.ie. Use medicines responsibly see www.apha.ie. ZT/20/38/1