A novel use for intranasal vaccines is being researched by the makers of Inforce-3. It is proposed that administering this vaccine to a cow at freshening can help upregulate local immune responses and reduce the incidence of post-partum pneumonia, as well as reduce retained placentas, metritis, and mastitis.
Specialists in immune system research have long been debating the immune system of the transition cow. Many studies have shown that a cow’s immunity is generally suppressed around the time of calving. So how do they survive if they are at their most vulnerable and stressed at calving, and they also have a suppressed immune system? Researchers are now proposing that the immune system might localize to certain at-risk areas during the transition period - which might make it seem like the whole system is suppressed when it is really working overtime in certain locations like the uterus and udder. They have called this the “shifting of the immune system.” Some cows are better able to do this shift, and have little to no issues as fresh cows. Preliminary research is suggesting that giving Inforce-3 intranasally to cows at freshening helps cows do this shift of the immune system more consistently.
There are cells called dendritic cells that send out “homing signals” to tell the body where to send immune responses and these are the cells responsible for shifting the immune system. In dairy cows, there appears to be 2 places where the immune system can shift to: the reproductive + respiratory systems, or the digestive system. So by giving Inforce-3, which causes a local immune response in the respiratory system, the reproductive system is upregulated simultaneously.
The published science is very preliminary but has been discussed at vet meetings for a couple of years now. The first published study showed an increase in antibodies and other immune cells in cows treated with Inforce at calving when compared to cows treated with Inforce in the dry period. This study was not perfect, but showed a promising trend. Another larger study which has been submitted for review compared 4 large groups of cows: one group treated with nothing, one group with Inforce at freshening, one group with a dose 3 weeks before calving, and another group that got 2 doses (pre-calving and at calving). It showed improvements in retained placentas, mastitis and metritis, reduced culls and mortality, and a significant reduction in antibiotic use. The researcher behind the study put forward a significant return on investment for treating fresh cows with Inforce based on the results of this research, however the study it still under review. At this point, we don’t know which group is best. We do know the dose given at calving seems the most beneficial, but we do not know if a second dose given pre-calving is critical or more beneficial. Stay tuned for updates on this exciting new research.
This Inforce-3 protocol is a good example to demonstrate that treatments that upregulate immune function will likely become more prominent in the near future as antibiotic use is encouraged to be reduced. The preliminary data on using Inforce-3 in this way is not quite strong enough to dictate a total overhaul in your fresh cow protocols, but it has shown enough of a positive trend to motivate larger, more thorough studies on the use of Inforce-3 in fresh cows. Further research will reveal whether treating cows at calving with Inforce-3 is a worthwhile investment in fresh cow management.