New Survey by MSD Animal Health Explores Barriers to Vaccination on European Farms

42 Percent of Farmers Report Lack of Knowledge about Vaccines.

MADISON, NJ, April 4, 2018 – MSD Animal Health (known as Merck Animal Health in the United States and Canada) today announced the results of a new survey among over 1,000 farmers in the UK, France, Germany, Italy and Spain, that found more than one-third (42%) reported knowing nothing to little about vaccines for preventable diseases such as pneumonia and neonatal diarrhea in beef or dairy cattle. Further, less than one-third (28%) reported knowing about these vaccines well or very well.

Poor bovine neonatal survival rates are an international animal welfare issue, iyet the vaccination level for endemic diseases like Neonatal Calf Diarrhea and Bovine Respiratory Disease in Europe is between 10 and 40 percentii . In addition, animal disease, which reduces global food production by 20 percentiii according to World Organization for Animal Health (OIE) estimates, costs farmers a significant proportion of their meat and dairy yield.

“Considered a first line of defense against bacterial and viral diseases, vaccines play an important role in preventing illness in individual animals or herds, thus helping to minimize the need for treatment of sick animals,” said Ian Anderson, Global Marketing Director Europe, MSD Animal Health. “We conducted this survey to better understand barriers to vaccination on beef and dairy farms in Europe, and to raise awareness about the benefits of vaccination as a preventive measure.”

The survey found one of the main barriers to starting or continuing a vaccination program is a lack of recognition of how preventative measures positively impact the health of cattle (e.g. stopping disease contraction and spread).  Additionally, respondents noted that vaccination tends to be used as a control and management tool, implemented when the herd is already infected to stop further disease spread, rather than as a preventative measure and is stopped when the problem has disappeared.

While more than half of the farmers who vaccinate reported that they will continue (52%), one in five reported that they are not likely not start a vaccination program on their farm. Veterinarians are the main channel (84%) of information about vaccination.

“Advancing the adoption of vaccination as a standard preventive procedure would contribute to infectious disease control, improved food availability and security around the world,” said Geert Vertenten, Technical Director, MSD Animal Health. “We are proud of our initative, Time to Vaccinate, designed to help educate farmers about the benefits of vaccinating their cattle and the solutions that it brings to our customers.”

Time to Vaccinate is focused on connecting farmers who want to learn more about a preventive approach to managing their herds with farmers who utilize a vaccination protocol on their farm. Learn more at

About the Survey
The purpose of the survey was to identify rational as well as emotional / psychological factors that influence farmers’ decisions to vaccinate, or not to vaccinate, and gain an understanding of veterinarians’ motivations and constraints to the promotion of vaccination.

MSD Animal Health conducted two market surveys in 2015 among farmers and veterinarians in 5 countries: UK, France, Germany, Italy and Spain. In-depth interviews were conducted with 19 farmers, and telephone interviews to verify results were conducted with 1,001 respondents in 5 countries; 200 per country. In depth-interviews were conducted with 10 veterinarians in each country, and telephone interviews with 200 veterinarians per country. In addition, two interviews were conducted with experts in the psychology of motivation.

About MSD Animal Health
For more than a century, MSD, a leading global biopharmaceutical company, has been inventing for life, bringing forward medicines and vaccines for many of the world’s most challenging diseases. MSD Animal Health, known as Merck Animal Health in the United States and Canada, is the global animal health business unit of MSD. Through its commitment to the Science of Healthier Animals™, MSD Animal Health offers veterinarians, farmers, pet owners and governments one of the widest range of veterinary pharmaceuticals, vaccines and health management solutions and services. MSD Animal Health is dedicated to preserving and improving the health, well-being and performance of animals. It invests extensively in dynamic and comprehensive R&D resources and a modern, global supply chain. MSD Animal Health is present in more than 50 countries, while its products are available in some 150 markets. For more information, visit or connect with us on LinkedIn and Twitter.

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iMee, JF. Why Do So Many Calves Die on Modern Dairy Farms and What Can We Do about Calf Welfare in the Future? Animals 2013, 3, 1036-1057; doi:10.3390/ani3041036 iiNon compulsory vaccination, countries’ internal analysis 2016 iiiEditorial by B. Vallat, Director General of the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE), 30 April 2009 at