Quality Assurance Applies to Dairy Too
Posted on November 5, 2012 in Starting Strong - Calf Care
When a heifer calf is born, you probably think about her potential as a good replacement in the milking herd. What you may not think about is how she will ultimately become a beef animal.
Aerica Bjurstrom, University of Wisconsin-Extension agriculture agent in Kewaunee County, said it’s important for producers to keep Dairy Quality Assurance (DQA) in mind as they raise calves.
According to Bjurstrom, a cow can receive up to 100 injections in her lifetime. If administered incorrectly, these injections could lead to lesions, scar tissue, broken needles in the tissue and drug residues. Producers need to take precautions to ensure that these errors don’t occur and compromise the quality of the animal’s meat when she is eventually culled and becomes a beef animal.
“Lesions and scar tissue can start with a calf and be carried out her entire life,” she said.
The top rule for maintaining that value is good preventative care. High quality colostrum, clean bedding, vaccinations, etc. all reduce the number of treatments an animal will need down the road. In addition, Bjurstrom said all producers should put priority on good recordkeeping. By knowing what injections were given and when, producers are better able to track the effectiveness of those products and better manage treatment strategies.
Bjurstrom suggested these guidelines for giving injections:
- Diagnose properly
- Know what to use or call your veterinarian
- Read the label
- Use proper label doses unless otherwise instructed by your veterinarian
- Use the correct route of administration (intravenous, intramuscular or subcutaneous)
- Observe withdrawal times
Bjurstrom used the following scenario to emphasize the importance of using the correct route of administration. Drug A is labeled as a subcutaneous drug with a seven-day withdrawal period. That means that Drug A was researched, FDA-approved and manufactured with the intent that it will only be administered under the skin. The effect on the animal and the withdrawal period are both based on that assumption. However, if Mr. Smith injects Drug A as an intramuscular drug, he has no way of knowing how that drug will affect the animal, nor will he know the actual withdrawal period. This is why it’s so vital to follow label instructions.
When administering an intramuscular drug, Bjurstrom said the injection should be made in the neck tissue instead of the leg. That’s because a majority of the animal’s meat is in its legs. Administering drugs at this site could significantly compromise carcass quality. It could also compromise treatment effectiveness.
As Bjurstrom pointed out, a good relationship with the veterinarian is the base of good DQA. Work with your vet to properly diagnose animals and learn proper injection procedures. For more information, Bjurstrom said she recommends talking to your local extension agent as well as the local Beef Quality Assurance (BQA) experts. She said she encourages dairy producers to achieve BQA certification because packers appreciate the extra focus and commitment to quality.
Bjurstrom reiterated that quality assurance starts with good management and fewer treatments.
“We want her to be a healthy animal,” Bjurstrom said. “It saves time and keeps the animal healthier and more productive.”
Starting Strong - Calf Care