By John Mayer, Merck Animal Health
Beef producers can maximize their animal-health protocols and help ensure the efficacy of injectable cattle products, such as vaccines and antibiotics, by implementing and adhering to sound management practices in their operation.
¦ Timing is important. Beef producers should seek the advice of their veterinarian whenever there is doubt about when to administer a product. Producers also should consider slaughter withholding times before administering any product.
¦ Read the label. To help ensure the safety and efficacy of a product, read the label thoroughly. The label provides valuable information, including indication, route of administration and dosage. It is unlawful to administer any product off-label unless directed to do so by your veterinarian.
¦ SQ is best. Beef Quality Assurance (BQA) practices should always be followed. These practices include the use of animal-health products that are administered subcutaneously (SQ). This particular practice reduces the risk of injection site blemishes, which lower the level of beef quality. When intramuscular (IM) injections have to be given, they should always be administered in the neck muscle to avoid the more valuable carcass cuts and minimize any tenderness issues, regardless of the age of the animal. See www.bqa.org for more information.
¦ Safety first. To ensure the safety of the handler and that of the animal, low-stress animal handling practices should be followed. In addition, well-designed cattle-restraining facilities make handling and the proper administration of animal-health products safer and easier for both animals and handlers.
¦ Follow dosage instructions. The volume of product given at an injection site depends not only on the dosage but also on the route of administration. Always follow the label recommendations. In most situations, never exceed 10 cc per injection site.
¦ Proper needle size. As a general rule, use the largest gauge needle (smallest diameter) that is reasonable for the product and volume to be injected. Change needles often, and use aluminum hub needles because they are less likely to break while giving an injection. Never use a bent or broken needle.
¦ Keep it clean. Good sanitation practices are important to help protect against the potential spread of disease and product contamination. While plastic disposable syringes are best, reusable syringes should be washed after every use with hot, soapy water and rinsed with hot water.
Injectable animal-health products are an important part of health protocols and ensuring the health and well-being of cattle. The effectiveness of these products is dependent upon good management practices aimed at lowering the risk of disease.
Beef producers are highly encouraged to consult with their veterinarian to develop the appropriate health protocols and implement best management practices that help maximize the effi cacy of animal-health products while contributing to the production of a safe and wholesome beef product for consumers.
JOHN MAYER, D.V.M, is a beef technical services manager for Merck Animal Health. He provides expertise in confi ned beef cattle production, addressing on-arrival cattle challenges and feedyard systems. Before joining the Merck Animal Health team in 2010, Dr. Mayer was a beef feedyard consultant in the Upper High Plains.