Training Video: How to Properly Give Injections
Even though dairy cows are raised for milk production, nearly all dairy animals end up in the beef supply chain at some point. That makes proper animal handling and drug administration important to avoid injection site lesions that can damage the carcass.
According to the 2016 National Beef Quality Audit, 15% of dairy carcasses were found to have lesions, while only 7% of beef carcasses were affected. Most of the lesions come from giving injections in the hind quarter where there’s higher value meat. Other injuries can occur as well, including damage to the sciatic nerve.
“We want to try and do all of our injections in the neck,” says B.J. Jones, a veterinarian with Center Hill Veterinary Clinic near Darlington, Wis. “There’s less trim in the neck and less valuable cuts of meat.”
Dr. Jones explains the target area on the neck is a triangle that runs from in front near the top of shoulder forward to just short of the jaw, back to the point of the shoulder and then up to the starting point.
Be careful not to give injections straight down on top of the neck, Jones says, because there are ligaments that run along the top of the neck that could be damaged. Jones also cautions about giving shots too low on the neck because that’s where the jugular vein runs.
Pay attention to drug labels, too. Intramuscular injections can be given straight into the neck while subcutaneous injections must be given under the skin, which requires the needle to enter the skin at an angle.
Another area to give injections is near the base of the ear. This location is more for longer-acting medication that stays in the animal longer. Jones says these are administered in the ear because the ear is discarded at slaughter. “There’s a fatty deposit just in front of the ear where he can point the needle up or down,” Jones says. “We can put some long-acting medications here that last for three to seven days.”
To see the instructional video, click here