These tips can help improve vaccination programs

Cattle producers pay good money for vaccines and spend a lot of effort developing a sound vaccination program for their farms. As a result, they don’t want it failing because of poor storage or administration technique.

Using a cooler to protect product from freezing or thawing is one really good idea.

I used the Cross Five cooler, which with a small warm pack under the vaccination gun holders, kept product from freezing for a whole day at -10 C.

Various makes and models of coolers are available in a broad price range. They are worth checking out and may be a good investment.

Other vaccination tips include:

  • Store vaccine in the middle area of the refrigerator and according to label. Maintain chain of refrigeration. Keep a thermometer in the fridge. Don’t store vaccines in the door of the fridge.
  • Do not place ice packs directly on the vaccines. Keep vaccines in their packaging until they are ready to use.
  • Prevent vaccines from freezing or getting too hot.
  • Warm vaccines a bit before injecting to avoid tissue reactions.
  • Prepare the chute and alleyway in advance to make sure they are working properly. There should be no protruding or sharp bits, and sliders need to work properly.
  • Have an emergency kit available, stocked and labelled. It should include epinephrine, dexamethasone, antihistamine, blood stopper and wound spray.
  • Mix only enough modified vaccine to last one to two hours. It’s best to mix just as needed and finish off the bottle before taking a lunch break, for instance.
  • Use a sharps container. Check expiry and withdrawal dates of products before using. Water- based vaccines have a 21 day slaughter withdrawal and oil- based vaccines have a 60 day withdrawal.
  • Swirl vaccines when rehydrating. Don’t shake them vigorously.
  • Select appropriate needle size, depending on size and maturity of cattle and viscosity of product. Use as short a needle as possible to get under the skin for subcutaneous administration.
  • Keep syringes well maintained and cleaned with hot water. Store in fridge or freezer after vaccinating for the day. One drop of cooking canola oil placed on the rubber O ring maintains sliding motion easily.
  • Calibrate syringes to make sure they are dispensing the correct amount. For example, a 50 cc syringe should be half empty after administering a two cc dose each to 12 head.
  • When using oil-based vaccines, use syringes designed for that.
  • Change needles every 10 to 20 head or when bent, burred, dirty, dull or injected through manure.
  • Inject subcutaneously whenever possible. The neck is preferable; behind the elbow is the second choice. Inject show cattle on the left (non-show) side.
  • Double check the dosage.
  • Properly restrain cattle.
  • Minimize shots. No more than two will often cover all the antigens.
  • Take as much care as possible to avoid another passage through the chute, as long as timing is appropriate. Weight, body condition scoring, fecal testing and DNA hair sampling can often be done at the same time as vaccinating. NSAIDs may be used if appropriate.
  • Don’t mix up syringes; keep track of what they were used for. Use coloured tape or write on the syringe.
  • Check to see if the needle is broken in the gun after withdrawal. If so, record it. Always use needles with metal hubs.
  • Discard unused doses of vaccine.
  • Don’t disinfect vaccine needles.
  • Use vaccines with as low a dose as possible.

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