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How to give an injection to livestock

Vets are expensive, particularly for large animals that require house calls, such as cows, so the more you can learn to do yourself, the better. One of the easier tasks that you can learn is giving an injection. If you follow Pat Coleby’s methods, you will find that she recommends injections of vitamin C and B12 for just about everything. You may also need to inject antibiotics in life-threatening situations or to give vaccines.

Ruby looking cute and not needing any injections...
There are two types of injections that you may need to give, either intramuscular (in the muscle) or subcutaneous (under the skin). Drugs and vitamins are generally given as intramuscular injections, while vaccines are generally subcutaneous, but you must check for each injection before you start.

The best location for the injection depends on the animal. For animals that you are planning to eat (or to sell for eating), its best not to use their rump, as this may damage the meat, and an injection site on the neck is favoured. For other animals (pets), we find the rump is often easier. Our house cow Bella reacted very badly when a vet tried to give her an injection in the neck (even though I explained that we wouldn’t be eating her!), but we had more success when the vet moved the needle to Bella’s rump.

The basic procedure is to attach the needle to the syringe and pull the plunger to the mL position for the amount you need to inject. The size of needle you need will depend on the liquid, thicker liquids need larger needles. Stab the top of the bottle of drug (or vitamin or vaccine) and push the air into the bottle, tip the bottle up so that the tip of the needle is always submerged in the liquid and then slowly draw the plunger back. The air that you injected into the bottle will push the plunger to around the right position.

When you have the right amount of liquid in the syringe, remove the needle from the syringe and push out all the air (you may have to wait for all the air bubble to settle to the top). Now you stab the animal in the desired location with the needle, then attach the syringe and slowly push the liquid into the needle. You should only give 10mL in one place, and then move the needle to a different position by pulling it out a little (but not quite out of the skin) and changing the angle. It helps to flick the animal’s skin with your finger a few times before you stab them, so they don’t get such a shock from the sharp needle.

For a subcutaneous injection you need to lift up a "tent" of skin and make sure you inject under the skin and not into the muscle.

There's a good fact sheet with photos here. When we have injections to do, I am usually too preoccupied to take photos!

Did I miss anything?  What other simple vet procedures can you learn to (safely) save call-out fees?

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Comments

  1. A really good post - I get asked this question alot and I always find it a difficult thing to explain and david is usually the one who does the injections . One thing I have learnt is to store the needle /vaccinating equip. carefully - i had the nasty experience of having one needle sticking in my hand when it dropped out of a shelf and I instinctively went to catch it .

    ReplyDelete
  2. wow, Liz! that's super terrific thanks!

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