Could something as simple as an inaccurate weight for an individual animal prevent you from measuring the right dosage of an antimicrobial or dewormer?Yes it can, and if you’re underdosing, you may be throwing money down the drain. And what about the techniques used to adminster those products? Are you following the label directions?
Healthy cattle are vitally important to the fi nancial health of your business. Take the time to make sure you and your crew are doing all that is necessary to ensure that your investment is optimized.
Accurate dose. To determine proper dosage, have an accurate weight of each animal—underestimating weight can lead to underdosing of animal health products.
Several methods are available for determining an animal’s weight, but using properly calibrated livestock scales is the most accurate and consistent method for determining body weight. Visual observation is usually inaccurate and not recommended when determining medication dosages.
Administer correctly. "Even the most effective vaccine is useful only if it is handled and administered properly and given in a timely manner," says Dan Goehl, veterinairan and owner of Canton (Mo.) Veterinary Clinic.
If you’re not sure whether you’re administering products correctly, work with your veterinarian or participate in your state’s Beef Quality Assurance program for training. There are also instructional videos available online at the program’s website, www.bqa.org. Using the right injection site is critical for proper administration of product, but also to ensure that the muscle underneath the hide is not damaged, which affects beef quality.
"Correct administration of any injection is a critical control point in beef production and animal health," says Glenn Selk, emeritus livestock specialist at Oklahoma State
University Extension. "There is a negative relationship between meat tenderness and injection sites, including injection sites that have no visible lesion. In fact, intramuscular injections, regardless of the product injected, may create permanent damage regardless of the age of the animal at the time of injection. Tenderness is reduced in a 3" area surrounding the injection site."
To avoid damaging valuable steak cuts, move the injection site to the neck. Selk tells producers to give injections according to label instructions and to understand the terms that are used:
¦ Subcutaneous (SQ) means under the skin.
¦ Intramuscular (IM) means in the muscle.
Some vaccines’ label instructions allow either IM or SQ injections. Always use SQ when permitted by the product’s label, Selk says. "Remember to ‘tent’ the skin for SQ injections unless instructed otherwise by the manufacturer," he adds.
Use new, sharp needles and the correct gauge for the vaccine being used and the size of the animal, advises Pfizer Animal Health. Change needles every 10 to 15 animals, and never re-enter a vaccine bottle with a used needle.