There are several methods to prevent or treat disease in your livestock, one of which is vaccination. Administering treatments to livestock via injection can however be difficult if not approached correctly. It is essential to take the necessary steps to safeguard your animals against injury, infection and even death, while procedures must be in place to protect the handler and workers.
Preparation is key
The specific product and route of application must first be decided before selecting and preparing the equipment needed to apply the product. “This is on authority of animal health and safety procedures, and usually involves higher management in large-scale farming operations,” says Dr Odendaal, a veterinarian. “In small-scale farming operations the livestock owner, in consultation with an animal health professional, is responsible for selecting a product.”
The first factor to consider is for which type of animal the product will be used, as well as the stage of the animal’s production cycle. The following pertains to cattle:
- Bull: Before and during breeding.
- Cow: During gestation and after calving.
- Heifer: One year old and two years old.
- Calf: Newborn and at weaning.
- Feedlot calf: Shortly after arrival and before slaughter.
Main categories of indications
The following categories of vaccines to protect against preventable infectious diseases caused by bacteria and viruses – most of these products are registered under the Fertilizers, Farm Feeds, Seeds and Remedies Act, 1947 (Act 36 of 1947) – are available:
Ectoparasite control (ticks, lice, mites, flies).
Endoparasite control (roundworm, tapeworm, flukes).
Antibiotics (bacteria, protozoa).
Minerals (supplement shortages).
Vitamins (supplement shortages).
Keep in mind that there are several other types of medicine registered under the Medicines and Related Substances Act, 1965 (Act 101 of 1965) for which a veterinary prescription is required, such as antibiotics, anti-inflammatory products, and hormones.
Various physical injuries can arise when handling livestock, especially when they are kept in a crush pen. Under these circumstances the animals will always exhibit defensive behaviour, including fight or flight behaviour. The crush must be inspected and prepared beforehand to make sure it is on par and that there is nothing that can cause injury to animals.
Preventing injury to the operator
A particular hazard associated with injecting animals is a needlestick injury. Procedures such as careful positioning of the hands and appropriate restraint of the animal should be applied to minimise the risk of a needlestick injury.
Dr Odendaal cautions that care should always be taken when using hypodermic needles. “When using disposable needles, make sure the needle is capped until immediately before it is inserted into the animal. After use, all needles should be re-sheathed while ensuring that the needle does not puncture any fingers.”
All used sharps and hypodermic needles must be discarded in a ‘sharps’ container. Sharps and needles should be discarded immediately to avoid the risk of injury.
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