What is best practice when it comes to injecting my cattle?

Over the course of an animal’s life, they will require many vaccinations and treatments. Whether treating cattle with specific medicines for specific illnesses or administering routine vaccinations, farmers need to inject treatments with the right equipment and in the right places.

Firstly, farmers need to have the animal penned correctly. This will avoid any damage to the syringe and needle and will prevent injury to both the farmer and the animal; a head locking gate will stop the animal from moving forwards and backwards.

The size of the syringe and the needle are two things that the farmer needs to take into consideration. When administering large quantities of a product, such as antibiotics to adult cattle, a large syringe is needed.

This will result in one administration and reduce the stress on the animal. Having the correct size syringe can also reduce the risk of overdosing.

Farmers should also ensure that they are using the correct equipment. There are many different size syringes and needles that can be used to administer different types of products.

The two ways which farmers should administer injections are either subcutaneously or intramuscularly.

Products that are administered subcutaneously should be administered under the skin, while medicines that are administered intramuscularly should be injected into the muscle. In the case of intramuscular administrations, the ideal location is the neck.

The neck is an area of lower carcass value. Injecting into the rump of the animal should be avoided. The rump is a valuable cut of meat and injecting into it can lead to abscesses.

When the abscess declines, the muscle develops scar tissue which is unfit for consumption and has to be trimmed off the cut and – therefore – making it less valuable.

When injecting under the skin, the best place to inject is behind the shoulder. Some farmers pull the skin out and inject, while other farmers inject at an angle.

In addition, when the injection pierces the skin, bacteria can enter the opening and cause an abscess. Massaging the injection site after injecting the animal reduces the risk of infection.

If there is a need to inject the animal twice, injections should be administered either side of the neck.

Needles should be changed regularly to prevent contamination and infection and stored in a safe place to avoid injury; when finished with, they should be discarded in a safe manner. Gloves should also be worn when administrating treatments.