When administering animal medications or reproductive hormones as part of a synchronization protocol, product placement is very important. Following label directions for where to give an injection helps the product work most effectively. It also plays a role in meat quality when that animal moves on from its career as a lactating cow.

In a University of Wisconsin- Madison Division of Extension fact sheet, agriculture extension educators Ryan Sterry, Sandy Stuttgen, Bill Halfman, and Heather Schlesser reminded readers about proper injection sites. “Whenever possible, injections should be placed in economically less important cuts of meat,” the authors wrote.

In cattle, injections in the hindquarters should be avoided. They highlighted the Beef Quality Assurance recommendations that encourage administering products within a triangle on the dairy or beef animal’s neck that goes from ahead of the point of shoulder, above the vertebrae, and below the nuchal ligament.

When allowed by the label, they also encouraged using subcutaneous (SQ) injections. This method of injection reduces the risk of tissue damage, they shared.

Selecting the correct needle size, both gauge and length, helps preserve product efficacy and meat quality. Beef Quality Assurance guidelines state that 16-to-18-gauge needles, 3/4 to 1 inch in length, should be used for intramuscular (IM) injections. For SQ injections, the recommended needle length is 1/2- to 3/4-inch long. The needle must be long enough to place the product deep enough into the muscle, but not so long that there is a greater risk of the needle breaking off inside the animal, the authors wrote.

They also noted that needles are intended to be single-use only. Reusing needles raises the risk for spreading disease. In addition, bent needles are more likely to break. Needles that develop a burr at the tip have greater resistance when pierced through the skin and can cause more tissue damage.

Of course, human safety must also be considered when giving injections. The authors advised against trying to administer an injection in the neck without properly restraining the animal first, either with a halter or in a headlock.

Needlestick injuries are another risk cattle handlers face. The extension educators shared three steps that can be taken to prevent such injuries, including carefully handling needles, proper restraint of the animal, and using the appropriate equipment and technique.

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(c) Hoard's Dairyman Intel 2023
August 14, 2023

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