Are Cattle Getting mRNA Vaccines?

Over the past month or so I’ve received a bunch of calls and emails asking me this. I’ll get the answer out of the way quickly: no, they are not. There are no mRNA vaccines authorized for use in cattle, at least not in the U.S. But the idea is clearly ubiquitous. The National Cattlemen’s Beef Association recently issued a press release seeking to dispel the rumor. In researching this post I happened upon four other farmers who have written about it in response to customer queries. What I have not found is a source for the claim itself.

Each time someone has asked me about it, I’ve responded by requesting a link to an article or a podcast or a video. One customer sent me an article about RNA vaccine use in industrial pork production. I’ve had a few people mention instagram, but never the name of a specific influencer, while others cite pure word of mouth, which I obviously cannot check out. As far as I can tell it’s an almost entirely social phenomenon, spreading through ephemeral videos. When I write a post like this one I usually like to have a counterpoint, a document I can link to so readers can decide for themselves whether they find me or whoever I’m having a disagreement with more convincing. In this case I’m stuck shadowboxing with a rumor of a rumor.

So perhaps this is a good place for me to encourage radical skepticism as the appropriate default response to everything encountered online. Anyone who’s read this blog for any length of time knows I have my issues with the industrial food system and the opacity built into it. I don’t think Cargill or JBS are eager to let you know what they’re up to. But this does not mean that all claims about big ag are true. When you hear something, especially something that confirms your preexisting views, I recommend taking a hard look at the quality of the evidence and the basic plausibility.

The unfortunate reality of online life is that your attention is valuable. So anything that scares you, gets you worked up, or feels like a shocking revelation might be true, but it also might just be an effort to get you to keep watching and sharing.

As I’ve said, in this case I can’t even find documentation of the claim. But as a farmer I can explain why I’m confident I would know if there was a secret campaign to mandate mRNA vaccination of cows. The beef industry has hundreds of thousands of independent farmers and ranchers raising cattle, which means administering a national program would be difficult even if everyone was on board with it. It would take a huge amount of coordination and monitoring. It would be completely impossible to do in secret. If it was happening, farmers would know, and we’d all be talking about it.

While I’m writing about a narrow and relatively niche ag topic here, the point is broadly applicable, and will likely become increasingly so. I am sorry to say it, but for all the good, interesting, funny, revelatory stuff you can find online, there’s a lot more that is misleading or outright fabricated. I can’t tell you how to choose what to believe and what not to, since I’m still figuring that out for myself. But wherever you land, I do encourage you to believe it with far less conviction.


  1. JKing04/23/2023

    Love this article. I was Googling the topic of the mRNA in vaccines in Texas beef and your blog popped up. I think while there is a lot of misinformation, many realize that vaccines are allowed in organic meat in general, so it’s a good question. Where the line is drawn, I could not say because I am only a consumer of meat, but prefer to know if there are any vaccines used if this info is available.

    This USDA link states “Since organic farmers can’t routinely use drugs to prevent diseases and parasites, they mostly use animal selection and management practices. Only a few drugs, such as vaccines, are allowed.” Link:

    Here is another great article that confirms what you are saying regarding the fact that there are no mRNA vaccines for cattle at this time, and that 5 states are asking for labeling stating such, which I think is a good idea –

    Thank you for responsible, healthy farming!!!

    1. Garth Brown04/23/2023

      Thanks for stopping by and for taking the time to leave a comment. Happy eating!

  2. Christina05/20/2023

    Hi there, this video shows the tweet that set it all off, in a video that was posted about the Same time you wrote this:

    The original video:

    It’s comforting to see your words, but I just want to know is it still up to date, and all is well, or are you being forced to do this now?

    1. Garth Brown05/22/2023

      Hi Christina, thanks for the link. We are definitely not being forced to use any vaccines, and none of the farmers we know are either. Our calves are vaccinated for blackleg and clostridium, using conventional vaccines that have been around for decades. Most farmers I know use these to prevent diseases that affect calves early in their lives, but it’s entirely voluntary.


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