Three Ways to Prevent Costly Injection-Site Lesions and Protect Animal Welfare
DULUTH, Ga. (August 13, 2020) —"Losses due to injection-site lesions can range from a few dollars docked on a carcass to the entire carcass being condemned,” said Joe Gillespie, DVM, Boehringer Ingelheim. “They often affect both herd profitability and animal welfare.”
lesions are typically made of scar tissue that forms in the muscle or
subcutaneous tissue following an injection. The lesions must be trimmed and
discarded by processors, and the costs of trimming can be as much as $40 per
are sometimes unavoidable, there are management practices that cattle producers
can abide by to protect animal welfare, maintain meat quality and minimize the
impact on their operation’s bottom line.
1) Follow label (including needle) directions carefully. This may seem simple, but anytime that
you’re administering an animal health product, reading and closely following
the directions will help ensure the product is able to perform its job
effectively. Any deviation from the label directions can hinder efficacy and
increase the likelihood of an injection-site reaction.
health products can be administered subcutaneously, and this is the preferred
method of administration to preserve meat quality, versus an intramuscular
“No matter the
route of administration, it’s best to use a new needle that’s the proper size
indicated on the product label, so that you don’t introduce any bacteria into
the injection site,” emphasized Dr. Gillespie.
be new, the appropriate length and no larger than 16 gauge. Note: Using larger
or dull needles can traumatize tissue and produce injection site lesions.1
2) Don’t push volume limits. In addition to injecting the product
with a clean, properly sized needle, it’s extremely important to administer the
correct volume. No more than 10 milliliters (mL) should be injected into any
given site. This means that some of the products administered in large volumes
will require multiple injection sites, spaced at least 4 inches apart.
“While it may
not seem like a big deal to give five or ten more cc’s than indicated, any
added volume increases the risk of forming an injection-site reaction, no
matter what product you’re using,” advised Dr. Gillespie.
injection site also can be a waste of antibiotic treatment, as it does not make
the product more effective or treat an animal’s illness faster.
3) Choose a tissue-friendly treatment. Anytime that producers are
administering an antibiotic to an animal, there are two goals to keep in
First, the product needs to reach therapeutic levels in a short time frame
to effectively treat the animal and maintain therapeutic levels for as long as
possible. All products used to treat disease in cattle have their pros and cons, but
producers may be paying extra if they’re choosing a high-dose antibiotic in
hopes of treating the disease faster.
levels in antibiotics that treat common calf diseases aren’t much different
between 200-milligram (mg) dosage products and 300 mg,” explained Dr. Gillespie.
“Infected calves treated with a 300-mg product are receiving a dosage of 1.5
times higher concentration which in theory should mean that you have a
significantly longer time of antibiotic levels available in the tissue.
However, these products come with an added cost, and typically only last a
little bit longer than the lower-concentration options.”
Second, it’s important to avoid any unnecessary irritation to the animal. Ideally, a calf dealing with
respiratory disease, foot rot or pinkeye will be administered a fast-acting
antibiotic that causes little to no irritation, so that when they get out of
the chute, they can go back to the feed bunk and pick up right where they left
“You don’t want
products to negatively impact the calf’s attitude post injection,” said Dr.
Gillespie. “Administering a low-dose antibiotic will minimize the burning
sensation or irritation that often leads to calf depression and long-term
tissue damage.” When you’re choosing between broad-use antibiotics, he
recommends selecting a product formulated with Select Carrier™. This
unique carrier works to reduce tissue irritation and cattle discomfort, which
in turn minimizes costly injection-site lesions and post-treatment tissue
Finally, producers are strongly encouraged to work with their local veterinarian to assess their herd’s disease risk levels and current treatment protocols, as well as to ensure that they’re able to treat sick cattle both quickly and cost effectively.
Source: Boehringer Ingelheim Animal Health