Health Product Storage and Handling to Maximize Benefits

February, 2014
Bridget Carlisle, Polk Livestock Extension Agent, UF/IFAS

Animal health care manufacturing companies and professionals take great care in ensuring the quality of health care products for the beef cattle industry before they are sold, companies have no control of how the product is cared for and used after purchase.  It is the responsibility of the producer to properly handle and administer the product in a way to maximize potential benefits.  Not only is it an important Beef Quality Assurance practice, but it is important that the health care dollar is not wasted as a result of mishandling.  Products that are mishandled or administered improperly can be rendered completely ineffective if not have an adverse effect on your cattle.  Here are some rules to follow to ensure the maximum potential of your health products:

  1. Always READ and FOLLOW label and package insert instructions.  Yes, it is boring, but it is crucial to the effectiveness of your product.
  2. Use Beef Quality Assurance techniques and guidelines suggested by the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association.
  3. Maintain proper temperature.  Products may be inactivated if allowed to get too cold or too hot.  If a product requires refrigeration, make sure they are refrigerated when you purchase it, keep it refrigerated before use and keep them refrigerated during processing at the chute in loaded syringes. 
  4. Keep out of sunlight.  Several health care products can be inactivated by sunlight.  Keep these products out of direct sunlight, including while at the chute in loaded syringes and tubing.
  5. Do not pour injectable products from original packaging into another container.
  6. Do not mix health care products in the bottle or syringe, unless indicated on the label instructions.  Mixing may result in an obvious physical reaction, an unseen chemical reaction, or the modes of action may neutralize each other rendering the product ineffective.
  7. Do not reconstitute (prepare) more MLV (modified live viral) vaccine than you will use in an hour.  The shelf-life on reconstituted products is most effective if used within an hour.  After an hour, the product loses its effectiveness.
  8. Mark all syringes so that you know which product they contain while chuteside.
  9. Use the proper needle diameter.
  10. Use the proper needle length.  Use ¾ or 1-inch long needles for subcutaneous injections (SC).  Use 1 ½-inch long needles for intramuscular (IM) injections in larger cattle and 1-inch long needles for IM injections in smaller cattle.
  11. Use subcutaneous (SC) route of administration unless intramuscular (IM) route is specified on the label.  Select a clean area or clean the area before injection.
  12. Use the proper dosage.  Less is not more, more is not better!
  13. Follow label instructions for maximum volume per injection site.  Exceeding the recommended volume per injection site may result in serious injection-site blemishes.
  14. Space injection sites at least 4 inches apart.
  15. Place injections side-by-side (horizontally) instead of one-over-another (vertically). 
  16. DO NOT inject products into the hip or round.  Inject all products in the neck.
  17. Disinfect needles between animals with a disinfectant-soaked sponge in a plastic paint tray.  Stick the needle into the sponge to physically clean the needle.  DO NOT use disinfectants with MLV vaccines, use sterile water only.  For implant guns, wipe both sides of needle on the top of the sponge and apply a light coating of disinfectant.  Replace disinfectant and switch to a clean sponge when visibly dirty.
  18. Make sure you have adequate animal restraint to prevent needle breakage or injury to handlers.
  19. Change needles at least every 10 head.
  20. Never re-enter a bottle with a used needle
  21. Keep vaccines thoroughly mixed until the bottle is completely empty.  Do not shake the bottles, but gently swirl them to keep from damaging cellular particles and/or releasing endotoxins.
  22. Observe expiration dates on products.
  23. Keep records of administered products, lot numbers, dates of administration, route of administration and site of administration.
  24. Be sure to observe withdrawal times.
  25. Properly clean and disinfect syringes and equipment at the end of each day’s use.  Syringes and equipment used to administer products must be completely dry and free of residues, including disinfectant residues.
  26. Always READ and FOLLOW label and package insert instructions.

Proper storage and handling of beef cattle health products can help ensure their effectiveness and prevent wasting precious health care dollars.  For more information on the Beef Quality Assurance program visit or contact your local County Extension Agent.

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