Dairy Calf & Heifer AssociationHealthy calves are the result of a conscious, planned effort that includes a comprehensive health program developed with your veterinarian stressing preventative care through proper management, sanitation, observation and vaccination. The checkoff-funded Beef Quality Assurance (BQA) program has developed practices for providing care to your animals in order to meet consumers' expectations for a safe, wholesome food supply. Here are some tips for handling vaccines:

Safety and storage

  • Try to buy bottle sizes that will be used up quickly.
  • Keep vaccines refrigerated at proper temperature (< 45°F) until use.
  • Check fridge temperature regularly to make sure it's maintained at 35-45°F.
  • Use an insulated cooler and multiple ice packs for transporting vaccines to work cattle.
  • Avoid direct sunlight because ultraviolet light can impair vaccines' effectiveness, particularly modified-live virus (MLV) products.

Chute-side handling

  • Keep your insulated container in the shade with the lid on to minimize sunlight and dust contamination.
  • Mix only the amount that will be completely administered within one hour.
  • Make sure syringes are properly labeled or marked to avoid mixing vaccines when refilling because it could inactivate the vaccine or make it less effective.
  • Use different colors of electrical tape to segregate syringes and products.

Vaccine administration and site placement

  • Always read vaccine labels before use and follow directions. Look at expiration dates, injection dose, route of administration, etc.
  • Give injections only in the neck region. Never in the rump, top loin, or back leg
  • Never exceed more than 10 cc per injection site and space injections at least 4 inches apart (hand width).
  • Keep records of each and every time an animal is treated or processed.

To learn more about vaccine handling, watch the BQA training video at BQA.org or download the BQA On-Farm Training manual.
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