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Do we vaccinate our animals? It's not a simple answer. Here's the honest truth.

November 25, 2022

One of the top customer questions we get is, “Do you vaccinate your animals?” I wish the answer was simple. I wish it was a direct yes or no, but it’s more complicated than that.

We do not routinely vaccinate our animals. 

When animals eat a natural diet and live outdoors with plenty of fresh air and sunshine, there is little worry about disease. They are naturally healthy.

But, there are a couple circumstances that could lead to our animals getting a vaccine.

This is, of course, not ideal. But, you deserve to know everything about your food so you can make educated decisions about what your family consumes.

1- We bought an animal from another farm. And, the farmer did not know his animals were vaccinated. 

Vets will often vaccinate without asking permission. If the farmer doesn’t watch closely and keep his records organized, this can go under the radar. 

We actually had a problem with this in 2019. Farmer Aaron had bought in calves from a local farm years earlier, and the cows were still shedding RB51, the vaccine strain of brucellosis. You can learn more about the RB51 situation here.

2- There is a disease in a herd or flock, and immunization would prevent death and suffering.

Listen, we care deeply about our animals and try to raise them as naturally as possible. But, in the rare case that a deadly disease infects our animals, and there is no natural remedy to tackle it, then we will turn to conventional medicine. We want to ensure the best life for our animals.

This happened about a year ago. Farmer Aaron’s brother started a second dairy farm for us. And, as with any new operation, there were some challenges. One of those challenges was bovine pneumonia. He decided to vaccinate his cows to prevent death and suffering.

Let’s put this into perspective. There is a stark difference between what I explained above and the routine immunization practices used on conventional farms, even organic conventional farms. 

There’s no pretty chart with a livestock immunization schedule, like the one from the CDC for human children. But, I did a little digging, and here are the vaccines that vets typically recommend:

Cattle 

  • Rota-Coronavirus 
  • Bovine Rhinotracheitis (IBR)
  • Parainfluenza Virus 3 (PI3) 
  • Bovine Viral Diarrhea (BVD)
  • Bovine Respiratory Syncytial Virus (BRSV) 
  • 7 Way Blackleg - 1 dose
  • Pasturella
  • Pinkeye
  • Brucellosis (Bangs)
  • 5 Way Lepto
  • Camplyobacter

Pigs

  • Atrophic Rhinitis
  • Erysipelas
  • Mycoplasma Pneumonia 
  • Actinobacillus Pleuropneumoniae

Broiler Chickens

  • Marek’s disease
  • Newcastle disease
  • Infectious bronchitis
  • Infectious Bursal Disease

Laying Hens

  • Marek’s disease
  • Newcastle disease
  • Infectious bronchitis
  • Infectious Bursal Disease
  • Encephalomyelitis
  • Fowlpox
  • Laryngotracheitis
  • Mycoplasma gallisepticum

Turkeys

  • Newcastle disease
  • Hemorrhagic enteritis
  • Fowl cholera
  • Erysipelas

As with childhood vaccines, most livestock immunizations call for many doses within the first year, and then an annual dose each year thereafter. 

So, for example, beef cattle could get a specific vaccine 4 times in their first year, and then 1 annual shot, for a total of 5 injections for one disease before harvest. According to my calculations, an average conventional beef cow would get about 30 shots before you eat it.

Really what’s going on here is two different thought processes, two different ways of being and farming. 

On the one hand, we have naturally raised animals who rarely get sick. This is because they eat a natural diet and have plenty of exercise and space and fresh air. Animals raised this way do not need routine vaccinations. This is how Miller's does it.

On the other hand, there are conventionally raised animals who are likely to get sick without intervention. This is because they eat an unnatural diet, primarily corn and soy. They live in crowded living spaces, often indoors. They’re not able to exercise or breathe really fresh air. Animals raised this way would not produce food or survive without routine vaccinations and antibiotics.

There’s so much to consider here. These two different ways of farming exist for a reason. The cost of food, varying income levels, profit for big businesses, farmers' contracts with distributors, the cost for farmers to build new facilities or buy land, damage that’s already been done to the soil, etc. 

It’s also important to note that there is a difference between injection and digestion

Some vaccines for livestock are oral and some are by injection. But, no matter what, if you eat food produced from a vaccinated animal, whatever would pass to you is through digestion.

Your body has an amazing and complex system for removing toxins that you drink or eat. Most of this work is done by your kidneys, which filter toxins so you can excrete them in urine. 

On the other hand, when you inject something into your body, like many vaccines, it goes straight into your bloodstream. Your body is not designed to remove toxins in the bloodstream as well as those in your digestive system.

No matter which way toxins enter, your body can only detox so much. It can only handle a certain amount of toxins. It’s like filling a cup with water. The cup can only hold a certain amount of water. Once the water reaches the brim, it cannot handle any more.

Miller’s Bio Farm aims to provide you with clean foods, and this means limiting toxins as much as possible. But, we are not perfect. That’s why we add honest disclosures to our products

What do you think about vaccinations in animals? Are you comfortable consuming vaccinated animals? What about if they are minimally vaccinated?

I’d love to hear from you. Comment below (no account required - start typing for the guest option to appear) or contact us.

Marie Reedell

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