Dr. Richard Wallace, Zoetis – The Beef Side of Milk
Dairy producers are beef producers too, which is why it is important to ensure meat quality by preventing injection site lesions and drug residues.
According to Dr. Richard Wallace, DVM, MS, with Zoetis, dairy producers can capture more value for their cull cows by focusing on Beef Quality Assurance (BQA) guidelines. When a cow goes to slaughter with injection site lesions, this not only slows down the production line, but it also may result in up to 40 pounds of tissue trimmed from the carcass. Packing plants must make back this lost revenue and do so by dropping the price on the next load of cattle they purchase.
Wallace offered on-farm tips for improving the quality of meat coming from dairy cows.
How to prevent injection site lesions
- Proper restraint: Chutes or lockups can keep both humans and animals safe while administering shots. Restraining the animal limits movement, making it less likely for the needle to cause muscle damage.
- Injection site location: Shots should be administered into areas with less expensive cuts of meat. This means, for example, that the neck is a better choice than the round. BQA guidelines note no more than 10 cc per injection site (subject to specific drug label requirements) and a hand-width between injection sites.
- Needle selection: A 20-gauge needle is recommended for most drugs going intramuscular, while a 16-gauge needle can be used for thicker injections like oxytetracycline. The 16-gauge needle is also sufficient for administering most subcutaneous and intravenous injections.
- Needle and syringe maintenance:
- Needles: Avoid needles that are bent, dull, damaged or contaminated. Sharp needles cause less tissue damage. Also, straightening out a bent needle makes it more likely to break. Frequent needle changing is a good practice and should be done every 10 to 15 animals.
- Syringes: Disposable syringes eliminate the risk of severe injection site lesions and abscesses resulting from dirty and contaminated equipment. If using a reusable syringe, be sure to properly clean with a combination of heat, soap and scrubbing.
- Route, dose and product: Read and follow the labeled instructions to administer injections correctly. When possible, choose single-dose products that can go subcutaneous or intramuscular. Complying with labeled instructions is of growing importance as the FDA handles drug violation investigations.
- Recordkeeping: Treatment records should include the following: animal or group identification, drug used, date treated, dosage used, route and location used, name of person who administered, and withdrawal time for both meat and milk. These records should be reviewed before any animal leaves the farm for market.
How to develop a proactive residue prevention plan
- Develop a written set of treatment protocols.
- Incorporate effective products which have a dairy-friendly residue risk profile.
- Follow label directions:
- Manufacturers label for over-the-counter (OTC) and prescription drugs;
- Veterinarian’s label if extra-label drug use (ELDU).
- Train employees.
- Keep good records — daily!
- Verify the meat or milk withhold for every animal before it goes into the food supply.
- Watch out for the exceptions, which can include dehydration, kidney failure, liver problems, poor rumen function, etc.
Dairy beef production
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