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Remember proper injection sites when working calves

Friday, April 28, 2017

May is here and with it many cow-calf operations will be “working” the calves, castrating the males, immunizing one and all against blackleg, and in some situations, vaccinating the younglings for respiratory diseases.

Correct administration of any injection is a critical control point in beef production and animal health, reminds Glenn Selk, Oklahoma State University Cooperative Extension emeritus animal scientist and editor of OSU’s Cow-Calf Corner newsletter.

“There is a negative relationship between meat tenderness and injection sites, including injection sites that have no visible lesion,” he said. “ 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. “

Cow-calf producers need to be aware tenderness is reduced in a 3-inch area surrounding the injection site. Moving the injection-site area to the neck stops damage to expensive steak cuts.

“Producers should make certain their family members – and hired labor, if applicable – are sufficiently trained as to the proper location of the injections before the spring calf-working begins,” Selk said. “Also, take care to always follow all label instructions when administering injections.”

Subcutaneous means under the skin, intramuscular means in the muscle. Some vaccines allow for a choice between intramuscular and subcutaneous administration.

“Always use subcutaneous as the method of administration when permitted by the product’s label,” Selk said. “Remember to ‘tent’ the skin for subcutaneous injections unless instructed otherwise by the manufacturer.”

Selk added proper injection technique is just one of many components of the Beef Quality Assurance effort that has had a positive effect on the entire United States beef industry. Beef Quality Assurance is a national program that provides guidelines for beef cattle production.

“It’s important to follow the guidelines as the program raises consumer confidence through offering proper management techniques and a commitment to quality within every segment of the beef industry,” Selk said.

For cow-calf operators, another important aspect of the Beef Quality Assurance effort is keeping accurate treatment records. Treatment records should include:
● Individual animal/group identification;
● Date treated;
● Product administered and manufacturer’s lot/serial number;
● Dosage used;
● Route and location of administration;
● Earliest date the animal will have cleared the withdrawal period; and
● Name of the person administering the product.

Treatment records for cattle should be stored and kept for a minimum of three years after the animal or animals have been sold from the operation.

Additional information about the Oklahoma Beef Quality Assurance program is available online at The Oklahoma Beef Quality Assurance Manual can be downloaded from the site. Examples of treatment records to be kept and stored are available through the website as well.

The Oklahoma Cooperative Extension Service is a state agency administered by OSU’s Division of Agricultural Sciences and Natural Resources.

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