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West: Preparing for spring processing

Meranda Small for Progressive Cattle Published on 24 March 2021

With each passing day, we continue carrying out seasonal management tasks in order to be ready for spring turn out. By now, many have either already begun or are getting ready for spring processing of pairs.

During the long days of gathering, sorting and standing chute and fire side, it’s important to keep a few things in mind.

When handling vaccines, if using a modified live vaccine (MLV), only mix enough of the vaccine to be administered within an hour (two maximum), as after this point, the live pathogens start to degrade. Also be careful when mixing solid and liquid components, as shaking vigorously will also cause degradation of the vaccine.

Consider labeling vaccine guns to ensure products never mix. If a gun was previously used with a MLV and then refilled with a killed product, there can be a negative effect on the efficacy of the killed product. Inspect guns as well prior to processing, checking for chips or cracks that would lead to leakage and underdosing. Follow label instructions on products for setting guns to the correct dosage and monitor throughout the day to ensure it does not change. Keep guns and products in coolers when not in use to protect the pathogens of the products from direct light and heat.

For administering these products, select the right needle for the job. Length and gauge will be dependent on the size of the animal receiving the injection, route of administration and the viscosity of the product. It is a Beef Quality Assurance recommendation to change out needles every 10-15 head, as after this, there will start to be more resistance during injections from the needle dulling or developing burs. Consider moments during the day when it would be naturally logical to change the needle, such as with each draft of cattle it takes to fill a handling system or when refilling syringe guns, and, of course, should damage occur to the needle.

Continue maintaining the practice of administering injections in front of the shoulder whether working mature cows or young calves. There has been evidence that injections done in the round and top of the butt during spring processing of calves resulted in abscesses or lesions that were still evident at harvest. It’s also important to inform your crew of which products are being administered that day as well as the dosage of each and the location to administer the products.

Prepare your working area prior to the day of processing. Go through and check that panels are set, tables and chutes are working smoothly and, if roping calves, walk through your drag area to remove debris that would be hazardous to calves, horses and ground crew. Enjoy the season!  end mark

Meranda Small
  • Meranda Small

  • Extension Educator
  • University of Idaho
  • Email Meranda Small

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