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

written by

Aaron Miller

posted on

March 3, 2023

*Originally published on 11/25/22 and updated on 3/3/23.

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 have never routinely vaccinated 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 have been a couple circumstances that led 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. This is especially true when you buy in animals.

We actually had a problem with this in 2019. Farmer Aaron had bought in cows from a local farm years earlier, and one cow was still shedding RB51, the vaccine strain of brucellosis. The issue was completely resolved quickly, and you can learn more about the RB51 situation here.

2- There was a disease in a herd or flock, and we believed that immunization was the only solution to 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 little over a year ago. Farmer Aaron’s brother David 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 quickly decided to vaccinate his cows to prevent death and suffering. He didn’t think there was another option.

FYI - The vaccine used on these cows was the Inforce3® Respiratory Vaccine. It’s an “old fashioned” vaccine (NOT mRNA) that’s made with a modified live virus (AKA a GMO virus). It’s an intranasal vaccine; that means it’s NOT injected but put in the cow’s nose. Keep in mind that there is a difference between injection and ingestion (more on that below).

Side note: None of the cows on our main farm are vaccinated. This is where all of our bottled milk comes from.

This is the honest truth. Since this blog post was originally published in November 2022, we got such insightful and passionate feedback from our customers. It really made Farmer Aaron think.

This is our hard stance:

NO MORE VACCINES, and definitely NO mRNA vaccines. We will be 100% vaccine-free by 2025.

A few notes on this:

  1. If bovine pneumonia ever becomes an issue again, we’ll use a radically old fashioned, natural remedy - vinegar and red pepper. It seems to work just as well as the vaccine. The cows don’t “like” it, but I suppose it’s better than pneumonia. They put a mixture of vinegar and red pepper in the infected cow’s mouth. It seems to clear symptoms within a day or two.
  2. Farmer David will slowly sell any cows that received a vaccine, and we will be 100% vaccine free by 2025. We don’t want any animals that have had vaccines. The process has already started, and we should be vaccine free by 2025.
  3. And, along these same lines, we say NO to mRNA vaccines. This stands for ALL the farms we work with. We are a community of natural farms that says no to GMOs (and much more), why would we be ok GMO-ing our animals? mRNA vaccines are a hard no for us.


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 may 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 ingestion

Some vaccines for livestock are oral or nasal and some are by injection. First off, with an oral vaccine, the cow has a more natural immune response. And second, no matter what, if you eat (or ingest) 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 or breathe in. 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.

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