Properly use health products

A producer’s ability to correctly use an animal health product determines the product’s ability to perform. Human error is often responsible for a product’s perceived failure.

Other than a veterinarian, labels are the best source of information regarding animal health products. All products print storage directions on the label. Storing products in a secure area keeps them clean and safe from breakage, and reduces exposure to animals and humans. Correct storage maintains a product’s ability to perform. Most vaccines require refrigeration. Many antibiotics do not require refrigeration, and doing so renders them unusable in a syringe and more painful to the animal.

Follow directions

Store products in the packaging supplied. Boxes keeps bottles clean and help labels stay in place. Keep all written instructions to refer to. The Food and Drug Administration expects you to be familiar with the entire label, which includes everything printed on the bottle, box and all inserts.

The label states handling instructions, including warnings. For example, when it comes to vaccinations, pregnancy status of the animal may matter. Follow indicated withdrawal times.

IM (intramuscular) products are to be given IM. SQ (subcutaneous) is the preferred beef-friendly method, but not all products are designed to be given SQ. Use the correct dose. Dose timing is critical. Appropriately timed vaccine boosters establish lasting immunity.

Reconstituted modified live vaccine must be used within one hour of mixing; killed vaccine should be disposed of by the 10th day after opening. To avoid inventory, calculate how many doses of a product are needed. Most labels warn to use entire contents when opened. All products have an expiration date; it’s not a suggested date — it is the date to which the manufacturer has proven efficacy, when stored correctly.

Eliminate contamination

To avoid contamination, use transfer needles to reconstitute vaccines, and don’t put injecting needles back into any product’s bottle. Do not mix multiple products within one syringe.

Some antibiotics and most vaccines should be stored in the dark, and stored and used under refrigeration from 35 to 45 degrees F. Storing vaccines at less than 35 degrees F is more detrimental than greater than 45 degrees F because often the antigen will separate from the adjuvant.

Keep products that require refrigeration cold after purchase by transporting in a cooler with an ice pack. When receiving mail orders, product must arrive cold on an unthawed ice pack. Maintain shade and stable temperature while using products by using a cooler with an ice pack in the summer; without an ice pack is fine in the winter.

A project by the University of Arkansas Cooperative Extension Service in 2008 studied 191 refrigerators used by producers, retail stores and vet clinics. Data loggers were used to record temperatures at 10-minute intervals over 48 hours. Of 191 refrigerators tested, 76% were unacceptable for storing animal health products because temperature was not consistently maintained between 35 and 45 degrees F.

Refrigerator type or age was not critical in performance. Refrigerator location did matter. Those in barns were often coldest, and those located in temperature-controlled environments performed better. Refrigerator performance depends on maintenance. Dusty coils, clogged drain tubes, frost buildup and poor gasket condition cause refrigerators to work improperly. Full refrigerators perform better, but not packed too full; air movement around items is necessary for even chilling.

Stuttgen, DVM, is the Taylor County Extension agriculture educator.

This article published in the March, 2010 edition of WISCONSIN AGRICULTURIST.

All rights reserved. Copyright Farm Progress Cos. 2010.